Cover Image: Ancestor Trouble

Ancestor Trouble

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Member Reviews

I really enjoyed the premise of this book. It was an interesting peek into someone else's journey through finding themselves through their own genealogy search and trying to answer the problems, fights and generational trauma. Overall I enjoyed it.

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Had I shared with you recently that I've been thinking about taking a break from blogging and focusing that time instead to genealogy? A number of things have been driving me that direction and this books is one of them. I don't have nearly the colorful family history that Newton does (a friend once commented that my childhood was like something out of a sixties television program) but I'm yearning to learn more about the reality of our families, not just their names and dates of death. Newton, on the other hand, had some (well, a lot) of questions to be answered in her research, not the least of which was to understand why she is the person she is.

Newton's father routinely severely punished her for things like getting a B+ (he is no longer a part of her life). Newton's mother did nothing when Newton told her mother that her stepfather had raped her. Her granny warned her to watch for signs of mental illness in herself (Granny's own sister had spent most of her life in a mental institution after having danced naked in the streets). How could she be the product of these people Newton came to wonder.

As Newton begins to research her family history, she discovers that it's not simply enough to know about her ancestors. She needs to know the "why" of how she became the person she is because of who they were. This leads her to research epigenetics (I keep coming across that study since I read Jamie Ford's The Many Daughters of Afong Moy, which introduced me to the idea), neuroscience, genograms, and spiritual practices. Newton ties a piece of her own personal ancestry and life with her research into each of these subjects making them more understandable for the lay person.

You know you've read a book that's important when it doesn't just inspire and educate you, but when reviews of it show up on NPR and in the New York Times (and I highly recommend looking up those reviews because they are certainly more eloquent about this book than I am).

Newton asks a lot of questions, many of which can't be answered. But this book certainly has me asking questions and hoping to find answers of my own. Although, as Newton found out, we won't necessarily like the answers we find when we begin looking into our ancestors.

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If you have any interest in genealogy, you will love this book. Maud Newton decides to investigate her family's background. She's heard many stories, but oh the information she finds. She finds many colorful ancestors, including someone who was accused of witchcraft, someone married a dozen times, and a killer. She grapples with questions about privacy issues in the genealogy world, as well as how trauma in families can impact even generations later. This is part memoir, part nonfiction, and I enjoyed reading it.

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I received this book from netgalley for an honest review.

I love this book for incorporating family history with new technology. Throughout the book I was able to follow along with the story.

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A fascinating and thought-provoking story of one woman's deep dive into ancestry--as a trending hobby, and her own family tree--and what it asks of us in considering legacy, memory, roots, and inheritance.

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Ms Newton knits together genetics, genealogy, and sociology while she reflects on rockier parts of her familial history. Part memoir, part expose; 'Ancestor Trouble' lyrically connects a personal story to a societal fiber to help you realize how close we all are. An insightful personal journey that helps breathe life into genealogy and connecting to ones roots. Well written, I enjoyed this title and delight in adding it to my personal shelf.

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While I'm very interested in genealogy for personal reasons, I found Ancestor Trouble to be too dry and text bookish. With that said, the author, Maud Newton, adds her own familial antedotes which are relatable and interesting. Overall, I felt too much technical detail washed throughout. Thank you, Netgalley, for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 3 Stars

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Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation is Maud Newton’s memoir about her search for her southern family and the search for truth. I voluntarily read this complimentary copy of this informative, well-researched book. When researching the history and genealogy of one’s family, like Newton, one must be ready to unearth secrets of the past. Interesting read.

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I really wanted to like this book. The title and description grabbed my attention, then I started reading. The book reads more like a textbook and becomes boring as you go through it. Don't get me wrong, the information is educational, but not what I expected. I was hoping for more family stories and explanation of what was discovered through genealogy, DNA testing or anything but the dry textbook feel. I really had to stick with it to get to the end.

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A memoir told through the lens of genealogical research, "Ancestor Trouble" was unputdownable. Parts of it felt quite dense, though I don't mean that in a negative way -- it's clear that Maud Newton both knows a lot about the subject of genealogy *and* did quite a bit of research for this book. Don't expect to move through this one quickly. But it's worth spending time with. Newton closely examines her family history and pulls no punches and makes no apologies for their often bad behavior, rather, she ruminates on it and presents it without explaining it away or making excuses. It's made quite an impact on how I think about my own ancestral background.

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I'm quite addicted to genealogy, and was certain I would find Ancestor Trouble to be right up my alley. The ancestors in Newton's book were no doubt interesting, but my interest in them flagged every time the focus of the book turned to more of a textbook presentation of genealogy. It seemed as if there were multiple foci of the book, so much so that the theme never truly held together for me. Brava to Ms. Newton for the amount of research she pursued to complete this book. My thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Ancestor Trouble is packed with information about how we learn about and relate to the people who have gone before us. I like genealogy and genetics. But this book is written in an academic style and resembles a textbook. It was fairly boring.
Maud Newton’s ancestors have quite a colorful history. I enjoyed some of the stories. But I didn't enjoy the repetition of stories told in two or more chapters. And many of the stories would be valuable to her family members but not to casual readers.
About halfway through, I noticed all the references to other books. These resources could make for interesting future reading, but I wanted to read the author's thoughts and not a regurgitation of someone else's words.
While educational, this book is not one of my favorites.

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I tried this book to step outside my usual wheelhouse of fiction, but this book was not for me. I found it boring and just could not get into this, unfortunately. 2 stars ⭐️. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced copy for review.

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I really wanted to enjoy this book. I'm the family historian and have written about my ancestors who did some despicable things, too. I do agree that our ancestors' traumas are passed down through the generations, but this book needed some serious editing. The family story was interesting but the scientific portions seemed like filler. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

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Ancestor Trouble is the story of the author’s search to know more about her interesting and troubled relatives, along with how she fits in with them. She drops in pieces of information about genealogy and family history throughout the book. Although these sections are informative, I definitely liked the more personal parts more. I wish some of those stories could have had more of a conclusion, but maybe there isn’t one yet.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

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Disclaimer: I am biased. Genealogy is a part-time hobby which I pursue in earnest during rare, brief lulls between work and life's demands. So my interest was heightened as I learned about her approach, the tools and resources leveraged, the accuracy and legalities surrounding DNA/genetics testing, and the varied theories of epigenetics and generational trauma.

In Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and Reconciliation, I found myself drawn to the author's motivation (which she explained very well), her focus, and persistence to learn more about her family, and answer her own questions regarding timelines, rumors, genetics, and heredity.

The beauty of the offering is how the author puts things in context such that the reader understands the significance of her findings and her dedication to discover more about her ancestors. Fate was not kind to a few and she honors them in death where at times it seems as though little was bestowed during their lifetime. I sympathized with her when those undesired nuggets of hard, ugly (and shameful) truths emerged. She shared how she had to work through accepting these facts -- albeit it was painful to discover the details of their misdeeds, attitudes, and inhumane actions -- it was accompanied by paper trails proving how her family, directly and indirectly, benefited from those endeavors.

This is a profoundly introspective and revealing novel that is not only a testament to the author's tenacity but also her bravery to publish such a personal tome.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an opportunity to review.

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I couldn’t finish this book. I tried, I really did. I just couldn’t get into it. The book could not keep my interest. I got bored of repeatedly hearing about her dad being racist.

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Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

A book about genealogy and finding out about where/ who we come from. Who knows what you might find if you dig deep enough. I have never read anything like it before. Would highly recommend giving it a try.

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The brilliance of Newton’s work in Ancestor Trouble reflects her work as a journalist: balancing the personal with the universal. Newton traces much complicated and difficult family history while also giving the reader insight to the history of genealogy and the industry it’s become. Slow at certain moments, but overall a worthy read.

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To be completely transparent, I DNF this book at about 40%.

I love genealogy, family sagas, and memoirs. However there was a lot going on in this one that I had to put the book aside as it was not keeping my interest. That is not to say that Newton is not an incredible writer, she is. The amount of research and details included about her family and genealogy in general were impressive, but overall I just couldn't get into it.

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