Yes indeed – it’s Dick’s fault. What’s Dick’s fault, you ask? The fact that I haven’t had enough sleep for the past three days. That’s what’s Dick’s fault, him and his book, Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA.
What a book it is! I know Dick Hill, and I thought I knew his story, but I didn’t. I knew pieces of his story. Just snippets. I was missing the best parts.
Dick spent his life, after college, writing for a living in a variety of professional positions, and you can tell. His writing is precise and skillful, and it draws you into the story from the first page, even if you do think you know the story line.
In my case, I had commitments during the day, so I took the book to bed intending to read to go to sleep. Sometime around 3AM, I made myself stop reading so that I could get at least a few hours sleep. Thankfully, the third night, I finished the book.
Dick’s story begins with a slip up at the doctor’s office where he discovered he was adopted. He was 18 and on his way off to college, so even though he was quite surprised, he was relatively unconcerned at that time. However, over the years, and finally with a virtual deathbed confession of his father, his interest grew. It took his father’s revelation that he had a brother to really light that spark.
As these things go, his brother was relatively easy to find. His biological father was not. In fact, he didn’t know who his father was. He knew that his father was not his mother’s husband. Are you confused yet? Well, don’t be….it’s just part of this wonderfully elusive and slippery plot. Just when you think you have it figured out, I guarantee you, you don’t!
Dick’s story is particularly close to my heart. Dick knew who his brother on his mother’s side was, but he hunted for his father for decades. I knew who my father was, or I thought I did, and I hunted for my brother for decades. Dick and I used many of the same early DNA siblingship tools to prove and disprove relationships, and eventually, the newer wide spectrum autosomal chip testing available at both 23andMe and Family Tree DNA, with very similar results. I’m not going to tell you what those results were or are….you’ll have to read the book to find out.
Let’s just suffice it to say that there were a total of about 13 different candidates to be Richard’s father, all of which Richard had to unweave from the web of intentional deception and state-sanctioned “untruths” one by one. One by one he would identify candidates and be hopeful. One by one, he would eliminate them as possibilities. More than once, he thought sure he had the answer. More than once, he was wrong. Some candidates got rejected, reconsidered, rejected, reconsidered…..does this sound repetitive? You should be on Dick’s roller coaster ride!
I was so relieved to finally reach the end of the book. Richard found his father, in an unbelievable and ironic twist of fate, and finally, I could go to sleep! This book is what we used to refer to as a barn-burner! Gets ahold of you and just won’t let you go!
Congratulations Dick on a wonderfully executed masterpiece.
Whether you are interested in genetic genealogy, adoption searches or just like a good heart-warming mystery, you’ll love this book! But consider yourself warned…..don’t think you’re going to read it to go to sleep…..