1. Catlin, Anita PhD, FNP, CNL, FAAN

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This is the true story of a woman who submits a DNA swab to a mail-in DNA testing site. She does this without much thought and because her husband was doing it. When the results arrive, she is puzzled but not overly concerned. Dani asks her father's other child, her half-sister, to also take the DNA test to clear up her questions. DNA kits numbered M440239 and A765291 are compared. The results come back. They state that the two persons have relations in common four and a half generations ago (in Poland, where many people of Jewish origin lived in the 1700s) and nothing since then. They are not siblings. They do not have the same father. The time to do the test was estimated at 0.04538 seconds.


In half a second, the author's life is overturned. The book is an in-depth exploration of what it means to find out that you are not who you think you are. It is like a detective novel, trying to track down who she is and who her father is. The key players have mostly all since passed away, so no one can easily be asked. The book is poignant, heartbreaking, interesting, and positive, all at once. When you finish, you realize you have gone on a complex journey and you are grateful that the author has taken you along.


As nurses, we are now interacting with genetic testing in multiple ways. Diagnostic genetic testing is done routinely in the neonatal intensive care unit (Braid, 2019). Pediatric surgical nurses are caring for children with genetic-linked heart conditions, such as CHARGE syndrome, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, and VACTERL association (Cobert, 2019). We treat the pain related to sickle cell disease and test for this in newborns (Tanabe et al., 2019). In recent work on nursing treatment of addiction, Umberger and Gaddis (2020) reported on the interaction of genetics and substance misuse. Hacker et al. (2019), reporting on the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science, states that we are now providing individualized health care based on genetics. Martha et al. (2020), in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, summarizes this new "precision health care," based on genetics, behavior, environment, and lifestyle, in a clear and cogent manner.


Readers of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery may wonder why a book on genetic secrets is recommended. Yet, the secrets related to children's testing are being discussed by genetics counselors and nurses alike. Nurse Anita Tarzian (2018) has edited an issue of the American Journal of Bioethics specifically on the ethics around the "duty to warn" children who may have genetic mutations. Schultz et al. (2018) found parents of adolescents worried about how to share results of genetic testing. Many parents worried about the burden and risk to the child's self-image and did not know at what developmental age to introduce the information.


Dani Shapiro's book, Inheritance, gives us reason to care about the psychological component of this biological testing. This book review introduces a topic that many of us have not considered. This reading experience is recommended.




Braid S. (2019). The basics of molecular genetic testing in the NICU. Neonatal Network, 38(5), 274-277. [Context Link]


Cobert L. T. (2019). Nursing care of infants and children with congenital heart disease and associated genetic conditions. Pediatric Nursing, 45(2), 75-85. [Context Link]


Hacker E. D., McCarthy A. M., DeVon H. (2019). Precision health: Emerging science for nursing research. Nursing Outlook, 67(4), 287-289. [Context Link]


Martha S. R., Auld J. P., Hash J. B., Hong H. (2020). Precision health in aging and nursing practice. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 46(3), 3-6. [Context Link]


Schultz C. L., Alderfer M. A., Lindell R. B., McClain Z., Zelley K., Nichols K. E., Ford C. A. (2018). The influence of adolescence on parents' perspectives of testing and discussing inherited cancer predisposition. Journal of Genetic Counseling, 27(6), 1395-1404. [Context Link]


Tanabe P., Spratling R., Smith D., Grissom P., Hulihan M. (2019). CE: Understanding the complications of sickle cell disease. AJN American Journal of Nursing, 119(6), 26-35. [Context Link]


Tarzian A. J. (2018). Is there a duty to warn parents of a cancer-causing genetic mutation?American Journal of Bioethics, 18(7), 73-74. [Context Link]


Umberger W., Gaddis L. (2020). The science of addiction through the lens of opioid treatment for chronic noncancer pain. Pain Management Nursing, 21(1), 57-64. [Context Link]