• The Lost Family

  • How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are
  • By: Libby Copeland
  • Narrated by: Cindy Kay
  • Length: 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (444 ratings)

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The Lost Family

By: Libby Copeland
Narrated by: Cindy Kay
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Publisher's Summary

A deeply reported look at the rise of home genetic testing and the seismic shock it has had on individual lives

You swab your cheek or spit into a vial, then send it away to a lab somewhere. Weeks later you get a report that might tell you where your ancestors came from or if you carry certain genetic risks. Or the report could reveal a long-buried family secret and upend your entire sense of identity. Soon a lark becomes an obsession, an incessant desire to find answers to questions at the core of your being, like "Who am I?" and "Where did I come from?" Welcome to the age of home genetic testing.

In The Lost Family, journalist Libby Copeland investigates what happens when we embark on a vast social experiment with little understanding of the ramifications. Copeland explores the culture of genealogy buffs, the science of DNA, and the business of companies like Ancestry and 23andMe, all while tracing the story of one woman, her unusual results, and a relentless methodical drive for answers that becomes a thoroughly modern genetic detective story.

The Lost Family delves into the many lives that have been irrevocably changed by home DNA tests - a technology that represents the end of family secrets. There are the adoptees who've used the tests to find their birth parents; donor-conceived adults who suddenly discover they have more than 50 siblings; hundreds of thousands of Americans who discover their fathers aren't biologically related to them, a phenomenon so common it is known as a "non-paternity event", and individuals who are left to grapple with their conceptions of race and ethnicity when their true ancestral histories are discovered. Throughout these accounts, Copeland explores the impulse toward genetic essentialism and raises the question of how much our genes should get to tell us about who we are. With more than 30 million people having undergone home DNA testing, the answer to that question is more important than ever.

Gripping and masterfully told, The Lost Family is a spectacular book on a big, timely subject.

©2020 Libby Copeland. Published in 2020 by Abrams Press, an imprint of ABRAMS, Inc. All rights reserved (P)2020 Blackstone Publishing

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What listeners say about The Lost Family

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Some Science Would Be Nice

If you want some science or a gloss on the challenges the subject raises to historical notions of identity, you will have to look elsewhere. This is a shallow polemic using DNA testing as a springboard to spout the usual talking points about ethnicity, oppression, victim hood, social justice, blah, blah, blah. Worthless.

16 people found this helpful

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Left leaning inferences

Left leaning inferences In this book.
Mostly good information. Will not finish, and will return.

14 people found this helpful

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Fascinating!

This subject affects many more than realize it. The author looks at the subject from, what seems to me, all angles. She follows one story throughout, which adds suspense. I loved the book.

9 people found this helpful

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I am a seeker

I chose this book because there still isn't that many options on books of DNA connections. I found the storyline riviting, and wondered what the "final" outcome would be. When we make the choice to submit our DNA to any number of companies dedicated to help connect our dots, I don't know that we're ever really completely ready for the potential aftershocks that one, small act creates. This gives all seekers a photograph of what is possible - on the positive, and negative sides - of uncovering our family roots. Highly Recommend!

8 people found this helpful

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Surprised

I was surprised by how much this book captivated my attention. The author does a through, yet entertaining, look at the challenging information coming out of the burgeoning DNA heritage companies. She carefully examines the pros and cons without trying to convince the reader to back either one. Rather, the purpose is to make the reader aware of all the issues so that you may be informed. The narrator presents the material in a clean dispassionate voice making this a must read book.

6 people found this helpful

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Spectacular!

I’ve been genealogy crazed since 1995, growing into genetic genealogy. Thankfully I had enough biology study to be a good amateur. This story and all the background details were spellbinding. In a phrase, best genealogy story ever!

6 people found this helpful

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Incredible - must read!

Makes you think twice about recreational DNA testing, our man-made definition of race, belonging, and searching for meaning (or whatever we might consider the truth).

6 people found this helpful

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Well researched well written

The book the lost family by Libby Copeland was most interesting. The way she looked at how DNA attending our lives title provocative. It makes you rethink those holiday gifts. Well worth the time.

4 people found this helpful

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great DNA lesson

I loved it! I learned so much about DNA and what a simple spit test can actually result in.6

3 people found this helpful

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Worth a Second Listen

So full of research, details, connections…I loved it. Written to hold the reader’s interest and curiosity even through the occasional but necessary dry bits of science and research.

3 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 03-19-20

Ethical & other hazards of commercial DNA testing

This will be of interest to anyone who has taken a DNA test with Ancestry or other such companies. Although technical in part it is well written, and well narrated. A heart warming story of genealogical detective work and family discovery is interwoven with chapters dealing with the ethical and practical implications of this kind of readily available and very popular testing

1 person found this helpful

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  • TheSkatersmum
  • 06-23-22

Fantastic genetic genealogy true stories and info.

Alice's DNA story is woven through an interesting, sometimes worrying, at other times uplifting, well-researched backgound on DNA tests. Political, social and mental health implications are all addressed. Experts are consulted and further examples of different stories are sprinkled over the chapters. Adoption, donor conception , unexpected parentage, foundlings, unexpected etnicity are all covered, as well as the use of other people's DNA tests to solve criminal cold cases, health genetics and the future implications of DNA testing.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-08-22

Absolutely brilliant

Made a complex subject matter make sense. Sensitive reflections but not overly sentimental. Great research it seems. As a hobby genealogist, I wholly recommend it.

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  • Mike G
  • 01-14-22

Pronunciation of a key name irritated me.

I have a niggle / irritation about the pronunciation of a name. I'm sure "John Joseph" is not pronounced "John Yosef".

I know of several people with this name who are usually called "John Joe".

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • mark middleton
  • 10-01-21

Waiting for a punch line

I'm sorry but I really struggled to finish this book. I has so much potential but just never really went anywhere. it was like listening to someone read scientific genealogy notes they'd found under their bed

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-25-21

Narrated with feeling. Story was passionate..

Loved this book. Great narration. Written with honesty and positive happy ending. Great listen.

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  • Wendy Laigne-Stuart
  • 12-23-21

Not a Novel.

This book is not a story, or a collection of stories. The author is a journalist, and there are LOTS of quotes from other people, or other articles. This is for family historians with an interest in DNA. There is an interesting discussion of the ethics around the subject, but if this isn't your thing, don't get this one. It is my thing, and I enjoyed it, but the quotes get a bit tiresome.