Boni details these events and his discoveries in clear, crisp prose that refreshingly balances shoe-leather reporting, scientific history (from Henry IV to the 19th century “father of modern gynecology” to the “human-ape hybrid experiment of Red Frankenstein”!), and the emotions of his search and its impact on him and his family. He worries, understandably, “Was my parents’ fertility doctor a eugenics practitioner, or worse, a Klansman?” His mother reports that the doctor who handled the insemination demanded the family keep the procedure secret “for life”; Boni’s research, meanwhile, reveals that tens of thousands of children were conceived this way in the mid twentieth century, in an unregulated system in which doctors often ran no tests on sperm donors—and offered the children no avenue to discover their biological relatives in later life.
This is gripping, upsetting material, told with clarity and wit. Boni’s breakthroughs come in the 2000s, with DNA testing and the internet, and readers interested in issues of genealogy will tear through the pages. What he eventually discovers is truly jolting, compelling evidence for the necessity of a “Donor-Conceived Bill of Rights” for abolishing parental anonymity and limiting the number of offspring per donor.
Takeaway: An eye-opening and dramatic account of the history of artificial insemination and one man’s quest to discover his biological origins.
Great for fans of: Dani Shapiro’s Inheritance, Elizabeth Katkin’s Conceivability: What I Learned Exploring the Frontiers of Fertility.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A