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Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents--artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs--Lisa Brennan-Jobs's childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa's father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and p Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents--artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs--Lisa Brennan-Jobs's childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa's father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and private schools. His attention was thrilling, but he could also be cold, critical and unpredictable. When her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, Lisa decided to move in with her father, hoping he'd become the parent she'd always wanted him to be. Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs's poignant story of a childhood spent between two imperfect but extraordinary homes. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide through her parents' fascinating and disparate worlds. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is an enthralling book by an insightful new literary voice.


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Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents--artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs--Lisa Brennan-Jobs's childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa's father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and p Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents--artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs--Lisa Brennan-Jobs's childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa's father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and private schools. His attention was thrilling, but he could also be cold, critical and unpredictable. When her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, Lisa decided to move in with her father, hoping he'd become the parent she'd always wanted him to be. Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs's poignant story of a childhood spent between two imperfect but extraordinary homes. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide through her parents' fascinating and disparate worlds. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is an enthralling book by an insightful new literary voice.

30 review for Small Fry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    4.5 Well, I gobbled this one up in a few short days. As soon as I started reading this, I was fascinated and totally immersed in Lisa's story. Steve Jobs, Apple, not many happy not heard that too names. I don't use Apple products myself, don't even, voluntarily mind you, own a cell phone, but my daughter is an avid user. I'm just blown away by all the interesting non fiction being published right now. This one was garnering such great reviews from critics and readers alike, I had to grab it. Lisa 4.5 Well, I gobbled this one up in a few short days. As soon as I started reading this, I was fascinated and totally immersed in Lisa's story. Steve Jobs, Apple, not many happy not heard that too names. I don't use Apple products myself, don't even, voluntarily mind you, own a cell phone, but my daughter is an avid user. I'm just blown away by all the interesting non fiction being published right now. This one was garnering such great reviews from critics and readers alike, I had to grab it. Lisa, the eldest daughter of Steve Jobs, her parents never married, separated before the was born. For the first years of her life, he denied she was his child. Eventually, due to child support payments, a judge would order a paternity test taken, which proved she was his. Though for s time he would still deny this fact. When she was a little older he began to pay hef more attention, entering and leaving her life, sporadically. Caught between two such disparate parents, lifestyles, her father alternately demanding, of negligent, her mother struggking financially and emotionally, she struggled to find her place, where she belonged. Such interesting reading, so many insights into a life few will live or see. To say Jobs was a strange duck, with strange ways, is an understatement. It would be easy to dismiss him as just another negligent, self centered man, but I think he also struggled. To connect, to communicate, adopted as a child I felt he was very insecure, had strange ways of making people prove they cared about him. Lisa, tells her story, or their story, honestly send without dramatics. Saying, this I how it was, how I felt, how I wished it could be. Difficult upbringing, struggling often, she does remarkablly well, not without a great deal of trying and tears, I'm sure, but as always I'm amazed by the strength and versatility of the human spirit. She is a truly amazing young woman.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elyse

    Audiobook....narrated by Eileen Stevens “I’m one of the most important people you will ever know”.... Who talks like that?...to your 3 year old daughter? But ... it’s TRUE!!! Steve Jobs ‘was’ the most important person Lisa Brennan-Jobs knew growing up. He was her ‘daddy’. Can we laugh now? Of course we see the sadness. Lisa grew up in the distant shadows of one of the most well known names on the planet - computer genius - Steve Jobs. But...... Must this be a serious review? Sorry - read other revie Audiobook....narrated by Eileen Stevens “I’m one of the most important people you will ever know”.... Who talks like that?...to your 3 year old daughter? But ... it’s TRUE!!! Steve Jobs ‘was’ the most important person Lisa Brennan-Jobs knew growing up. He was her ‘daddy’. Can we laugh now? Of course we see the sadness. Lisa grew up in the distant shadows of one of the most well known names on the planet - computer genius - Steve Jobs. But...... Must this be a serious review? Sorry - read other reviews for ‘serious’. You’ll find plenty of opinions. Lisa was either authentic and wonderful or vindictive... or .. or... or... ‘whatever’!! Depends on readers points of views. I won’t loose any sleep feeling sorry for Lisa. Everyone- Steve Jobs -Lisa - Lisa’s mother, Chrisann, their parents friends, Lisa’s friends ... ‘everyone’ was flawed. Silicon Valley isn’t exactly flawless - either. We have a housing shortage- yet Apple and Google - both - continue to build spaceship- type companies employing thousands and thousands of workers. Lisa’s childhood growing up thrifty around wealthy is more common than people realized. Yet... it’s confusing to a kid. Side-by-side .... here in Palo Alto - Los Altos Hills - Menlo Park- Atherton - Woodside - even in Monte Sereno- there are single mom’s raising a child living in a back cottage of a larger house. Lisa ‘wasn’t’ the only child with a single mom in the Bay Area. But...I’m sure it felt like that to her at the time. Paul and I were ‘cracking up’ listening to this Audiobook together. Are we bad? We had our own side dialogue going. Buddy Listening with your spouse is a blast of fun. Our soaking in the warm pool for a few hours of listening was part of our enjoyment/ listening. Paul & I both found this book interesting. Interesting is an interesting word choice .... but that’s what I’m going with. Paul was funny. “Whose Debbie, again and why was she important?”, he asks me. Debbie was an older woman/ friend to Lisa when she was a child. Her mom was terribly jealous; the relationship ended abruptly. And.... “Steve wasn’t ‘that’ bad”...Paul says!! “well, ok, maybe he was”, Paul says later... “Why did Lisa write this book?” “I don’t know, Paul... should we call Lisa and ask her?” “They never talk to each other”, Paul says during a very funny dinner scene over a salad at Steve’s Woodside Home. Soo funny... it’s true. Conversation wasn’t a strong suit. A few activities with dad growing up: ...roller skating ...a visit to his office ...a ride in his Porsche ...dinner alone and a sleepover at his Woodside house. ...soaking in the hot tub together ...a delivery - gift of a Mac Computer ...but conversation? Not really! Activities with mom: ...Drawing, ( mom was a talented starving artist) ...day trips, (museums), ...pool parties at friends who swim naked. ... moving 13 times ...a ‘break-in’ to take a couch from Steve’s house in Monte Sereno when Steve didn’t show- up. ( proud ‘mom’ moment)... ha! So? What to make of this book? It’s your choice!! Read it - don’t read it. It’s not going to change your life either way. It’s Lisa’s memoir. I’m going with the full 5 stars: ...enjoyment human interest story - for both Paul & I

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leslynn

    Copy courtesy of NetGalley So, this book....... it's one of those which elicit strong emotions in a reader, especially a parent. There are times when you wonder why these people were allowed to be parents, why no-one smacked some sense into Steve & whateverthemothersnamewas, how did this child evolve into a somewhat coherent individual? Proof that: - intellect does not ensure good parenting (or even a mediocre attempt at it) - fame & money clearly does not make you happy - whateverthemothers Copy courtesy of NetGalley So, this book....... it's one of those which elicit strong emotions in a reader, especially a parent. There are times when you wonder why these people were allowed to be parents, why no-one smacked some sense into Steve & whateverthemothersnamewas, how did this child evolve into a somewhat coherent individual? Proof that: - intellect does not ensure good parenting (or even a mediocre attempt at it) - fame & money clearly does not make you happy - whateverthemothersnamewas was a selfish, brutish individual who should have made better life choices - that children defy, even after death - even when surrounded by people, you can be alone. A well-written memoir, which is worth reading.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    In Small Fry, Lisa Brennan-Jobs laments on her nostalgic and at times quite bizarre childhood à la Mommie Dearest (although certainly not to the extent of defamation like the latter). The illegitimate daughter of technology mogul Steve Jobs, Lisa lived in idyllic California at a time where this was a place of dreamers and thinkers and the power of computers for the average consumer was being recognized. I wouldn't necessarily call this one of those "child abuse" memoirs, although there was a lot In Small Fry, Lisa Brennan-Jobs laments on her nostalgic and at times quite bizarre childhood à la Mommie Dearest (although certainly not to the extent of defamation like the latter). The illegitimate daughter of technology mogul Steve Jobs, Lisa lived in idyllic California at a time where this was a place of dreamers and thinkers and the power of computers for the average consumer was being recognized. I wouldn't necessarily call this one of those "child abuse" memoirs, although there was a lot of neglect on the part of Steve Jobs himself. Instead it reads more like a coming-of-age story about a girl who still loves her father but has only just been coming to terms with his strange actions. Another central figure in the book is Lisa's mother, who often moved her from one place to the next, and alongside Lisa's years of growing up, Apple computers were establishing themselves both in pop culture and in the homes of a ton of users, bringing not just notoriety but also questions. Why was Jobs so reluctant to acknowledge his daughter's existence yet he still spent time with her on occasion? Why was the choice of naming the "Lisa" computer such a mystery? Why did Steve have no problem with his step-children and colleagues, but Lisa was largely ignored? Meanwhile Lisa eventually moves in with her father, highlighting a relationship that's both strained and dysfunctional yet still built from desperate affection. Steve Jobs himself is deceased and therefore can't speak for himself on the matter, so what here in Small Fry is embellished remains a bit foggy. Still, it brings to light a less glamorous side of the high-stakes 1980's atmosphere of America and the callousness of the environment behind all that rhetoric about dreams and imagination. It's less about Steve Jobs and more about a girl trying to understand the strange and idyllic world she spent her childhood in.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

    Lisa Brennan-Jobs new memoir, Small Fry, is searing in a Mommy Dearest expose` way, with me exclaiming and throwing the book down on at least three occasions, with a, “He did what?!”. And that’s saying something for a former high school counselor, who’d thought I had hardened to any shock at inconsistent parenting and emotional abuse. So let me tell you, Steve Jobs takes the Apple cake. But instead, pick up a copy of Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ book and let her tell you in her very rational, yet compellin Lisa Brennan-Jobs new memoir, Small Fry, is searing in a Mommy Dearest expose` way, with me exclaiming and throwing the book down on at least three occasions, with a, “He did what?!”. And that’s saying something for a former high school counselor, who’d thought I had hardened to any shock at inconsistent parenting and emotional abuse. So let me tell you, Steve Jobs takes the Apple cake. But instead, pick up a copy of Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ book and let her tell you in her very rational, yet compelling writer’s voice.

  6. 5 out of 5

    librarianka

    This is a very well written and a very interesting memoir about the complex, distant father that Steve Jobs was to Lisa Brennan. The book joins its great predecessors such as the Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover or We are all shipwrecks: a memoir by Kelly Grey Carlisle that are non-fiction books that read like fiction. All the parts that make a great and compelling read are in place: an unusual and intriguing story, very high quality of writing and editing, maturity of the author able to tran This is a very well written and a very interesting memoir about the complex, distant father that Steve Jobs was to Lisa Brennan. The book joins its great predecessors such as the Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover or We are all shipwrecks: a memoir by Kelly Grey Carlisle that are non-fiction books that read like fiction. All the parts that make a great and compelling read are in place: an unusual and intriguing story, very high quality of writing and editing, maturity of the author able to transcend her experience and personal suffering and able to present an analytical, well-balanced piece of writing that is completely gripping. We cannot avoid rooting for the protagonist of this story and we get the satisfaction by observing how in spite of great adversity, she grows, matures, comes into her own. Lisa Brennan gives justice to the complexity of her father and presents a portrait that is far from simplistic and at the same time very vivid, clear and oddly in accordance with his own rules of esthetics: sparse and minimalistic, devoid of sentimentality. The subject matter of the story, the distant, at times cruel or even malicious father and the daughter who keeps seeking his approval, acceptance, admiration, love and who is denied this love by the parent, will resonate with many readers. The act of describing of the process of her coming into her own and moving beyond the negative formative experiences and its product - the book offers hope and might be as therapeutic to readers as it has been to its writer. As to the question posed many times: was Lisa, the first computer, named after the daughter of Steve Jobs? Yes and no. Watch 2015 documentary Steve Jobs the Man in the Machine to find out. Excellent and highly recommended book that could be material for a new film all together.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I also grew up in Palo Alto at the same time so many of the places and references were violently real to me. Dragers? Check. Zohar? Check. The Good Earth? Check. That Whole Foods downtown? I can picture that place as if it were yesterday. It was kind of ratty in the old days. I'm sure it's supremely well-lit now. This book was a bit heart-breaking. I have a lot of sympathy for the author as she describes how she yearns to be more part of her father's new family, yet never will be.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    The headline of the NYT review referred to Steve Jobs as a "terrible dad" but the book is so much more than a smear of Jobs as a parent or human. He was, most certainly a difficult, deeply flawed human but in her beautiful memoir, Lisa Brennan-Jobs is graceful, not bitter. She reveals the wounds inflicted by both parents and her longing to belong in her two families, in school, and in a world she was too young to understand. Any child of divorced parents will recognize her complex and confusing The headline of the NYT review referred to Steve Jobs as a "terrible dad" but the book is so much more than a smear of Jobs as a parent or human. He was, most certainly a difficult, deeply flawed human but in her beautiful memoir, Lisa Brennan-Jobs is graceful, not bitter. She reveals the wounds inflicted by both parents and her longing to belong in her two families, in school, and in a world she was too young to understand. Any child of divorced parents will recognize her complex and confusing emotions. Readers who have loved a visionary driven to create or change the world will keenly understand her roller coaster ride, tremendous pride in the achievements of the one you love, alternating with frustration that even though they give so much to the world they are often incapable of being present for the family. Every parent who has the courage to honestly acknowledge their own flaws, successes, and failures will have at least a little empathy for Jobs and Lisa's mother, Chrisann. Finally, anyone who lived in Palo Alto in the 80's and 90's will enjoy the references to the town when it was quirkier and, IMO, more interesting than it is today. The description of The Good Earth may have been worth the price of the book. This is a moving coming-of-age story more than a goldmine for Steve Jobs fanboys or those who want to scorn the rich and famous. I loved it and am giving to my daughter.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Meggan

    This book really makes you understand that people are complicated. Just because they are famous, or intelligent, etc., doesn't mean that success is going to translate into all aspects of their lives.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie Garner

    I received an advanced reading copy of this book. Interesting memoir from the daughter Steve Jobs. It is a moving story if a young girl absolutely desperate for love from her family and at times finding it extremely hard to get that from either parent. Right from the word go, her father denies her. From a young and naive age it seems to me that Lisa became a parent to her mother and tried so hard not to be a stranger to her father. So many times when I was reading this book I found myself getting I received an advanced reading copy of this book. Interesting memoir from the daughter Steve Jobs. It is a moving story if a young girl absolutely desperate for love from her family and at times finding it extremely hard to get that from either parent. Right from the word go, her father denies her. From a young and naive age it seems to me that Lisa became a parent to her mother and tried so hard not to be a stranger to her father. So many times when I was reading this book I found myself getting angry with both parents. That was not the way you treat a child! Either of you! Obviously this is seen through Lisa's eyes but man, do you feel for this kid. I found it extremely fascinating that she offered such a personal insight into Jobs. It was completely different to how I imagined him to be. That said, all his faults make sense. Not that I calmly agree with them. I will admit I found the writing still a little disjointed but it was fairly easy to pull back to the point you were at after the distraction. Good alternative biography about Steve Jobs for fans of Isaacson but if you are looking for something to fangirl about him, this is not for you.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Riva Sciuto

    "For a long time I hoped that if I played one role, my father would take the corresponding role. I would be the beloved daughter; he would be the indulgent father. I decided that if I acted like other daughters did, he would join in the lark. We’d pretend together, and in pretending we’d make it real. If I had observed him as he was, or admitted to myself what I saw, I would have known that he would not do this, and that a game of pretend would disgust him." *** I LOVED this memoir. I found mysel "For a long time I hoped that if I played one role, my father would take the corresponding role. I would be the beloved daughter; he would be the indulgent father. I decided that if I acted like other daughters did, he would join in the lark. We’d pretend together, and in pretending we’d make it real. If I had observed him as he was, or admitted to myself what I saw, I would have known that he would not do this, and that a game of pretend would disgust him." *** I LOVED this memoir. I found myself fascinated by the Steve Jobs that existed on the periphery of his Silicon Valley fame. While the public has been introduced to a tremendous amount about the tech giant since his death in 2011, never before have we read about him from his daughter's perspective. The pages of this book are rich with the emotion, confusion, and pain of a woman who had a tumultuous relationship with her dad. Her candor is painful to read at times, but refreshing in its openness; it reveals how much of her life was shaped by the mercurial man she knew as her father and whom the world knew as the man behind the Apple computer. While Lisa Brennan-Jobs's memoir has been publicly denounced by her own family, it's clear she sought to write this book as a kind of catharsis. As an attempt to make sense of the relationship she had with her dad. As an effort to piece together the things she couldn't understand as a child but on which she has gained more clarity in the aftermath of her father's death. Brennan-Jobs fills the book with lines like these: "I see now that we were at cross-purposes. For him, I was a blot on a spectacular ascent, as our story did not fit with the narrative of greatness and virtue he might have wanted for himself. My existence ruined his streak. For me, it was the opposite: the closer I was to him, the less I would feel ashamed; he was part of the world, and he would accelerate me into the light." She takes us on her own turbulent journey with her dad, from the time he denied his paternity until their reconciliation in the memorable moments that preceded his death. And this journey is an emotional one: we (literally) feel her pain as she desperately tries to make her dad proud, as she attempts to forge any kind of connection with him, as she navigates the frequent landmines of his emotional instability. For years she suffers the pain of being deemed "Daddy's mistake" by her half siblings, of her father's refusal to associate the "Lisa" computer with her, of his repeated denigration of her as a subpar member of the family. So often memoirs written about someone who has died provide overly glorified accounts of their lives. But this one is an exception. This is an honest and real account of a daughter's relationship with her father. I appreciated so many things about Lisa Brennan-Jobs's account of this relationship, but most of all, I love her reflection on the importance of time. Despite Steve Jobs's myriad shortcomings, his daughter ultimately forgave him, and wished that they could reclaim the time they never had together. After all, time is the one thing we can never get back. Four stars! Vanity Fair excerpt: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/....

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cherise Wolas

    This is an intriguing coming-of-age/family story, but I disagree with the reviewers who believe that the fact that the father in question was Steve Jobs is irrelevant. It's what makes this book especially interesting. For all his brilliance and on-and-off charisma, he was cold and sanctimonious, withholding, profoundly awkward and, at times, wildly inappropriate. And saw exactly how his life would unfold, and it unfolded that way. Does brilliance excuse coldness, meanness, cheapness? Written fro This is an intriguing coming-of-age/family story, but I disagree with the reviewers who believe that the fact that the father in question was Steve Jobs is irrelevant. It's what makes this book especially interesting. For all his brilliance and on-and-off charisma, he was cold and sanctimonious, withholding, profoundly awkward and, at times, wildly inappropriate. And saw exactly how his life would unfold, and it unfolded that way. Does brilliance excuse coldness, meanness, cheapness? Written from a child-to-teen perspective - desperate to be loved by her father, to become part of his family, it is beautifully honest. Many writers have written novels on this topic, so the identity of this particular father makes it stand out. We imagine families with great wealth, with brilliance at the core, living shimmering lives, and it's not true here. That the author made it through is a testament, and for me, her mother is a true heroine.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julie Miller

    I received an advanced reading copy of this book. Memoirs by women are my favorite genre, and this one is a new favorite. I didn't expect it to be the page-turner it was; Brennan-Jobs is a fantastic writer and her coming-of-age story about her relationship with her unpredictable father is compelling. The setting- California in the 80's- was brought alive for me as well.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Despite the buzz around this book because her father was famous, Lisa’s story is essentially about a sensitive girl who feels isolated, as if she never fits in anywhere—like the ugly duckling in the fairy tale. Of course, she tells us the story everyone’s heard: Lisa’s parents were in their early 20’s when her mom got pregnant. Her father continued to deny paternity until the state of California demanded a paternity test, as it did for clients receiving welfare benefits. He then grudgingly paid Despite the buzz around this book because her father was famous, Lisa’s story is essentially about a sensitive girl who feels isolated, as if she never fits in anywhere—like the ugly duckling in the fairy tale. Of course, she tells us the story everyone’s heard: Lisa’s parents were in their early 20’s when her mom got pregnant. Her father continued to deny paternity until the state of California demanded a paternity test, as it did for clients receiving welfare benefits. He then grudgingly paid child support. But this is more Lisa’s coming of age story, caught between a mother who is mostly her best friend and protector, with the occasional ”you ruined my life” thrown in, and a father who makes her feel perpetually off-balance as he doles out affection sparingly, if at all. This book stands on its own as Lisa tells her story of growing up in the eighties and nineties in a dysfunctional California family--her story is universal enough to transcend the famous father. Brennan-Jobs is a compelling writer, and it seemed that by the end of her book that the “ugly duckling” outsider has finally found her place as a swan.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jen Is Always Reading

    I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. This was pretty bland and boring. I wouldn't recommend this with so many other great memoirs out there

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Scott

    Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs is an autobiography presented as a coming-of-age story written for the target-audience of Steve Jobs fans and people interested in the myth surrounding the Apple creator who died not long ago. Overall, a good story, but with flaws, not enough about Steve Jobs to matter generally, and not enough alignment of values with the lead character to matter for me. The writing is nice and flowing (except for the big gap in the maturing years discussed later in this review), Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs is an autobiography presented as a coming-of-age story written for the target-audience of Steve Jobs fans and people interested in the myth surrounding the Apple creator who died not long ago. Overall, a good story, but with flaws, not enough about Steve Jobs to matter generally, and not enough alignment of values with the lead character to matter for me. The writing is nice and flowing (except for the big gap in the maturing years discussed later in this review), with lyric descriptions, vivid dialogue, and good portrayal of the main character. The detail is humane and generally believable, which is particularly important for an autobiography. We learn of a shambolic early life, with plenty of moving around, an unstable mother, and quite a bit of toying around the hippy culture and the occult (palm-reading and totemic sticks spring to mind). We also learn of an inconsistent, unfrequent at first, fluctuating relationship with Steve Jobs. There is a good description of life under the roof of Steve Jobs' family, with strict rules and veganism, surprisingly frequent failure of tech objects, and hardship for a kid trying to get spoiled or at times even acknowledged. There is a passive-aggressive account and a hidden in plain sight accusation of Harvard deciding admissions based on daddy's bank account or global reputation, but this is nothing new. Perhaps one detail is new: recounting the moment where Steve Jobs admits the Lisa computer was named after her (this time, the claim can be confirmed by singer Bono, says the author, although this is a largely inaccessible witness). As an example of good writing, consider: Our time together was not fluid but stuttered forward like a flip book. The lead character, Lisa, gets a largely unkind spotlight. Lisa has many little moments of lapses in judgment and acting out on jealousy, tells the occasional big lie, and engages in thieving. She finds it difficult to accept herself, and develops a habit of playing the emotions of her mother, and of riding the checkbook and the name of her father. She also finds it difficult to accept the rules of the house, or that Steve Jobs insists she develops her own career and earns her own money (Marketable Skills). But she is vivid and visible throughout the book, albeit constantly brooding, which makes her a dramatic and thus memorable character. Perhaps the best compliment is that you could like this book even as fiction. But there are also significant downsides, which derive from this being an autobiography of a person we assume lived near Steve Jobs. (A personal downside is that I could not find myself sharing the values of the main character, but this may not be an issue for others.) The overall story includes little characterization of people other than Lisa. Even then, the characterization occurs dynamically, through the eyes of the main character, with very little analysis. Thus, we learn next to nothing about Steve Jobs other than girl-Lis' idolized him and hated him at the same time, and then from suddenly mature Lisa that he never loved her and tried to take revenge on her for not adhering to his rules. The mother figure is at best pitied, at worst declared incompetent and also hated, albeit, with regret and turns. Laurene seems for a second to act as replacement-monther, and appears in a few moments of genuine support for young Lisa, but then is heard by Lisa declaring to a therapist she's a cold person and from then-on disappears from discussion despite the key role she must have played in the last days of Steve Jobs. The super-friendly neighbors who save Lisa's career by advancing her the money to do part of a year at Harvard and then a full year at the prestigious research university King's College in London, UK, receive a couple of neutral sounding lines, and we get very little sense of personality and only a rushed explanation of their seemimgly complex motivation for supporting her. The other characters remain obscure. Similarly, there is insufficient description of places outside the places connected to her mother or Steve Jobs. There is little about living with the neighbors, and little about living at Harvard or King's College in London. If you want to care deeply about the main character, you are left with a large gap about these places, and the three to four years they represent. Worse, this leavea the coming-of-age story incomplete, because we lack the transition between girl-Lis' and mature-Lisa. The key issue of inheritance. Jobs is quoted: “You’re not getting anything,” he said. “You understand? Nothing. You’re getting nothing.” And Lisa is clearly hoping to get at least a comfortable life, if not rich, consequence of Steve Jobs' wealth. Yet the subject is not further elaborated, and it remains unclear what she inherited, other than his name and a prestigious education. The book generally presents Steve Jobs with a toned down but unmistakably passive-aggressive style. Whether Lisa's views on this topic are constantly kept in check to level the highs and the lows, or the book has been carefully scrubbed, (or there is another reason,) the result includes many small moments of adoration and elation (about as much as I'd expect from buying your 6th Apple iPhone or your second pair of identical jeans), and a few more moments of little pettiness (about as much as you'd say to the kids who stepped on one of your shrubs). This does not match the young age of the character presenting them. There is also the occasional more serious material, but never aimed at a significant protagonist. For example, the author claims that her mother hears that the gardner was a child-molester; the neighbors enter the Jobs residence to help her move out, without asking for permission from the owner; and it is also the neighbors who say Steve Jobs is neglecting her; etc. The story includes key moments that reduce the credibility of the message or suspend the immersion of the reader. For example, there are moments of raw emotion interrupted by calculated observations on insignificant technical detail, e.g., "I was what she said I was, the kind of person who left the people they loved. I kept looking back." (powerful expression of guilt for leaving her mother), then immediately "In between looks I stepped carefully to avoid the hard fruits from the sweet gums. The trees were fiery orange and red, with star-shaped leaves" (careful and objective assessment of the surrounding, with a tinge of the naturalist lyricism). As another example, in a scene the writing mixes the young girl sense of wonderment and naive words, with the crisp analysis or pompous words of a mature person (e.g., "the house was Spanish-style, white stucco"); the result is uneven and suspends the immersion. Several key moments require full trust in the story. For example, it seems less credible than it could the claim of confession and expressions of being sorry attributed to Steve Jobs, or that Steven Jobs makes good and pays back every cent spent by his neighbors to keep Lisa in school during the times Steve has reneged on her, or the little mischief in which Laurene raises her eyebrows to Lisa behind Steve's back to confirm he was a bad kisser (loc. 2901 of 5133). It is also convenient, and thus raising a credibility issue, to blame it exclusively on the neighbors for not attending her graduation ceremony in London; there is only a perfunctory explanation that they were upset with Steve Jobs' presence, but no phone call to understand their voice directly, no analysis as for many other important moments in the book, and no discussion about what happened between Steve Jobs and them when and since they took in Lisa and thus spirited her away from under her spell. In the end, Lisa says Steve Jobs never loved her. But she also says love has no practical definition, and her life is factually rich for having been his daughter.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Linda Lipko

    This is truly is such a great book that writing a review is difficult. Told from the perspective of Lisa Brennan-Jobs, this is the story of her mercurial relationship with her famous father, Steve Jobs. While her father, the creator of the Mac Apple computer, and creative consultant of Pixar movie studios, became a mega millionaire, Lisa and her mother often lived without food and shelter. Roaming from one place to another, their existence was fraught with despair and longing. Originally, when he This is truly is such a great book that writing a review is difficult. Told from the perspective of Lisa Brennan-Jobs, this is the story of her mercurial relationship with her famous father, Steve Jobs. While her father, the creator of the Mac Apple computer, and creative consultant of Pixar movie studios, became a mega millionaire, Lisa and her mother often lived without food and shelter. Roaming from one place to another, their existence was fraught with despair and longing. Originally, when her father discovered her impending birth, he wanted nothing to do with her or her mother. When her mother finally was able to obtain support money, Jobs made sure that his lawyer drew up, and had the papers signed the day before his company went public, thus immediately rendering him a mega millionaire for the rest of his life, while keeping his illegitimate family always on the fringe. Hauntingly beautiful, Lisa tells of the hippie style life her mother and father lived when they met. After years of abandonment, he sporadically showed up at the latest residence her mother could afford and took Lisa with him for short periods of time. As the years progressed, her father decided to invite her to his luxurious mansion in the hills of California. Consistently referring to her as "Lis," his mood swings and temperamental behaviors left Lisa never knowing what way the wind would blow, or what small incidental event provided an opportunity for him to lash out with purposeful hate while spewing vile, exceedingly nasty, diatribe mental comments to any one in his path. Always knowing she was on the outside, while desperately craving his attention, that attention came sporadically, and at times inappropriately crude. As Jobs married and had three other children, the hurt became more extreme, and once she overheard one of her step sisters refer to her in public as "my father's mistake." Job's website mentioned a wife and three children. For all to see, Lisa his first of four, was not included. When Jobs knew he was dying, he verbally tried to assuage his guilt while telling "Lis" that he knew that for many years, he wasn't there for her, and now it was too late. On his death bed he repeatedly told her "I owe you one." Lisa knew "One" would never be enough! Exquisitely written, hauntingly told, this is a compelling story of a brilliant and very emotionally troubled man.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Lisa Brennan-Jobs, daughter of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and artist Chrisann Brennan, was born when her (unmarried) parents were just 23 years old. Jobs publicly denied his paternity until a DNA test proved otherwise. When Lisa was two, her mother sued Jobs for child support and, after months of resisting, he hurriedly agreed to pay $500 a month. Four days later, Apple stock went public and Jobs was worth $200 million. Steve Jobs may have been many things, but paternal wasn't one of them. Lisa Brennan-Jobs, daughter of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and artist Chrisann Brennan, was born when her (unmarried) parents were just 23 years old. Jobs publicly denied his paternity until a DNA test proved otherwise. When Lisa was two, her mother sued Jobs for child support and, after months of resisting, he hurriedly agreed to pay $500 a month. Four days later, Apple stock went public and Jobs was worth $200 million. Steve Jobs may have been many things, but paternal wasn't one of them. In fact, he's portrayed as thoughtless, self-absorbed, immature and withholding. "There was a thin line between civility and cruelty in him," Brennan-Jobs writes. But SMALL FRY is no MOMMIE DEAREST hatchet job. This heartfelt, emotional and exceedingly well-written coming-of-age memoir is a warts-and-all portrait, laced with resilience and healing. Life with her mother was often hardscrabble and rootless--they moved 13 times by the time Lisa was seven. While Jobs and Brennan never married, they were always entwined in each other's lives. When Lisa was 13, her father wed and started a family. His possessive nature wanted Lisa under his (aloof) roof. Maneuvering this shaky reunion was Job's newly discovered biological sister, author Mona Simpson--who later wrote the novel A REGULAR GUY about a Silicon Valley tycoon's distant relationship with his born-out-of-wedlock daughter. Lisa and her college drop-out father became estranged when she went off to college against his wishes. Jobs's 2003 pancreatic cancer diagnosis finally brought a reconciliation, before his death in 2011. Brennan-Jobs is an outstanding storyteller, and her empowering tale of overcoming dysfunctional family relationships with haunt readers. The daughter of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs writes an emotional, cathartic and haunting coming-of-age tale of family dysfunction.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Rosenblit

    DNF @ 25%

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carly DaSilva

    I like memoirs, especially women’s memoirs, and I’m glad I managed to snag this ARC at BEA, the last of those I received when I raided the Grove Atlantic booth. I’m always a little turned off when writing (particularly in memoir, particularly in women’s memoirs) is praised as “unsentimental” right off the bat—ouch, sentiment is valid and no less moving than a lack thereof, why put apathy on a pedestal, traditionally viewed as a better (more masculine) writer’s ideal—but that of course has nothin I like memoirs, especially women’s memoirs, and I’m glad I managed to snag this ARC at BEA, the last of those I received when I raided the Grove Atlantic booth. I’m always a little turned off when writing (particularly in memoir, particularly in women’s memoirs) is praised as “unsentimental” right off the bat—ouch, sentiment is valid and no less moving than a lack thereof, why put apathy on a pedestal, traditionally viewed as a better (more masculine) writer’s ideal—but that of course has nothing to do with the content itself, which I really did enjoy, and which does indeed imply much of its emotional weight. Brennan-Jobs chooses to detach herself from these moments in her youth in conveying them to us, thus highlighting her father’s detachment and distance throughout the book, the emotional damage of that echoing in the absence of it in the writing. Her mother’s presence in the book is also a commentary on that, being a root of emotional turbulence and transparency throughout. By the end, Brennan-Jobs (and we) see how important this root is, faults and all. I thought the storytelling overall was very artful—it reminded me how our lives have their own themes and motifs and symbols and allusions, echoing themselves as they progress, as if our paths have been written and revised themselves. Brennan-Jobs beautifully highlights these moments here with her chosen anecdotes—descriptive paragraphs capturing aspects of her relationships with her parents and other adults in her life, scenes highlighting those things about them that most impacted and shaped her. It was this most of all that I really enjoyed while reading. I’d give this a 3.5 on the round-up end. It exceeded my expectations.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen Ng

    4.5 stars Some people define success with money, some with character, but when brain abnormality is involved. It gets more complex. A psychopath did not choose to be a psychopath, his genes defined him. So, jobs, a jerk, a known fact... further confirmed by this book that I actually really enjoyed and I feel some kind of triumph that Ms Jobs came out unscathed. Not without pain, but water under the bridge. There is still no cure for Borderline personality disorder. They can't be cured with thera 4.5 stars Some people define success with money, some with character, but when brain abnormality is involved. It gets more complex. A psychopath did not choose to be a psychopath, his genes defined him. So, jobs, a jerk, a known fact... further confirmed by this book that I actually really enjoyed and I feel some kind of triumph that Ms Jobs came out unscathed. Not without pain, but water under the bridge. There is still no cure for Borderline personality disorder. They can't be cured with therapy or medicine. One just cannot teach love, empathy and remorse- the factors that make us human.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    I first heard about this book from The Today Show as I watched this interview being broadcast live:https://www.today.com/video/lisa-bren... I had the book on my radar in fact I wrote it down the day or so prior to place on hold at my library and ironically when I arrived it was on the shelf so I checked it out and read it that same day. I was excited to learn more about Lisa not just because of her famous father but because I'm a scapegoat and when I first came out about my own situation I was ost I first heard about this book from The Today Show as I watched this interview being broadcast live:https://www.today.com/video/lisa-bren... I had the book on my radar in fact I wrote it down the day or so prior to place on hold at my library and ironically when I arrived it was on the shelf so I checked it out and read it that same day. I was excited to learn more about Lisa not just because of her famous father but because I'm a scapegoat and when I first came out about my own situation I was ostracized by my own family claiming it was all lies or didn't happen the way I remembered so I can sympathize with her own denials. What impressed me most with Lisa's interview and subsequent book,"Small Fry" was her calm demeanor, her intelligence, her exquisite details of her recollection. Can we have different views? Sure but that's not to invalidate her own concerns. A memoir is just that full of reality and for Lisa her childhood memories were surreal yet full of truths. She takes us to a place of uncertainty, of mixed emotions, of a need as a child to be loved, cared for, supported, and sadly but most importantly validated. For anyone seeking to be whole that need is excruciating especially when faced with such hardships and turmoil in one's own family setting. Her father Steve Jobs was someone who was consumed by work and the almighty dollar and those of us including my own ex husband who was a malignant narcissist can easily spend way too much time working and not enough time caring for our own responsibilities. It seems there was not much love shown in terms of affection, attention, adulation on either of the two parental sides and perhaps if it had been shown correctly the outcome would be much different. Yet, what I've learned and I'm sure Lisa can relate is that we make up for what we've lacked in our lives, we accept accountability for our own actions, we find a happier place, we use the setbacks as set ups for something greater. Her smile in her author credentials says it all and I'm so proud to see her flourishing. A fab read that must be told and for everyone who thinks when children grow to adults and speak out they just want sympathy-- think again. The legacy is one that may be tainted but it's always real. Thank you for not staying silent Lisa Brennan Jobs as this is an important part of your life that had to be told and I'm so glad you found the courage to do so!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fawaz Abdul rahman

    I like to read anything related to Steve Jobs or Apple in general, that is the main reason I picked this book once it was released. No doubt Lisa was a victim as so many cases in the US and other western countries, and I enjoyed the book because I always like to know more about other cultures as well about Steve and other famous people. that been said, I am not really sure why Anyone should read this book, most things mentioned in this book may be to make you feel sorry for Lisa's family and stuff I like to read anything related to Steve Jobs or Apple in general, that is the main reason I picked this book once it was released. No doubt Lisa was a victim as so many cases in the US and other western countries, and I enjoyed the book because I always like to know more about other cultures as well about Steve and other famous people. that been said, I am not really sure why Anyone should read this book, most things mentioned in this book may be to make you feel sorry for Lisa's family and stuff but again you'll ask what is the point? however, I enjoyed the book for the reasons mentioned above and finished it in 2-3 sits.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Smalter Hall

    People are going to flock to this memoir for its shocking revelations about Steve Jobs--who was the author's father--and they aren't going to be disappointed. The details are pretty damning: he denied paternity when she was born, lied that he didn't name Apple's Lisa computer after her, and hurled senselessly cruel insults at his child. But in spite of all this, his daughter loved him, and that's what makes her story so compelling. Is there anything more human than loving someone and wanting the People are going to flock to this memoir for its shocking revelations about Steve Jobs--who was the author's father--and they aren't going to be disappointed. The details are pretty damning: he denied paternity when she was born, lied that he didn't name Apple's Lisa computer after her, and hurled senselessly cruel insults at his child. But in spite of all this, his daughter loved him, and that's what makes her story so compelling. Is there anything more human than loving someone and wanting them to love you back? Lisa Brennan-Jobs brings devastating insight to the task of telling her story, and I found the same pleasures here as I did in two of my other recent favorites--Educated and My Brilliant Friend. I guess my thing must be brutally relentless introspection about complicated childhoods? Yep, sounds about right.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marco G

    This was an amazing book. It'll probably be one of my favorite books this year. The author has a beautiful way of writing, and I relished in learning about her life with this icon of a man name Steve Jobs. Can't quite put into words in any way why her writing really stuck with me but she has an almost poetic Style to her writing that I thoroughly enjoyed. It's heartbreaking book at times, very honest, poignant. I hope she is given the opportunity to write more because her voice is one that I wil This was an amazing book. It'll probably be one of my favorite books this year. The author has a beautiful way of writing, and I relished in learning about her life with this icon of a man name Steve Jobs. Can't quite put into words in any way why her writing really stuck with me but she has an almost poetic Style to her writing that I thoroughly enjoyed. It's heartbreaking book at times, very honest, poignant. I hope she is given the opportunity to write more because her voice is one that I will enthusiastically follow.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hibah Kamal-Grayson

    3.5 stars. Fairly well-written and interesting, but I'm rounding down based on the wave of relief I felt upon parting ways with the narrator. It's hard to chronicle meanness without letting it infect you, and I kept detecting a faint trace of Steve Jobs's selfish cunning in the narrator herself: in her prose, her inner life, and even her actions. The narrative arc -- wobbly throughout the book -- sort of collapses at the end. I felt as though the author tried to quickly and clumsily stitch togeth 3.5 stars. Fairly well-written and interesting, but I'm rounding down based on the wave of relief I felt upon parting ways with the narrator. It's hard to chronicle meanness without letting it infect you, and I kept detecting a faint trace of Steve Jobs's selfish cunning in the narrator herself: in her prose, her inner life, and even her actions. The narrative arc -- wobbly throughout the book -- sort of collapses at the end. I felt as though the author tried to quickly and clumsily stitch together two diverging narratives with wildly different assessments of her father's character. I don't ask that narratives be tied up neatly with a bow. (And in fact, the confusion around her father's fundamental character is pretty telling in and of itself.) But this book left a bitter taste in my mouth, as if unkindness and cunning beget unkindness and cunning, instead of occasionally begetting warmth, kindness, and growth.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Henri

    I'm not entirely sure what to think of this book. It wasn't difficult to pick up and read and it didn't feel like something to just fill the time. Yet, it did on occasion make me cringe and think twice about continuing. I guess the book is about duality, a story not of a happy childhood, but not of a tragic one either. It is almost as if it's describing two childhoods, one that happened, and one that could've. Describing two different daughters – one for the mother, who appears to long for far mo I'm not entirely sure what to think of this book. It wasn't difficult to pick up and read and it didn't feel like something to just fill the time. Yet, it did on occasion make me cringe and think twice about continuing. I guess the book is about duality, a story not of a happy childhood, but not of a tragic one either. It is almost as if it's describing two childhoods, one that happened, and one that could've. Describing two different daughters – one for the mother, who appears to long for far more than she has, the other for a father, who is oblivious to what he already has. Up until the last few dozen pages of the book, I was disappointed by the author and how she believed in the fantasy that would never happen. It felt as if she was aware of the lies she was telling herself, yet still continuing to believe. I was angry at how she couldn't see past the lie. The ending changed this perception, putting the lie in perspective. It gave closure for both the reader, as well as the author/character – it made the book worth the read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Antti

    A love letter to California. To the famous dad, less so.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dana Portwood

    It was a struggle to read this book. The writing is brilliant and luminous, but the story is hard. Lisa Brennan-Jobs grew up as the unexpected and often unacknowledged daughter of Steve Jobs and artist Chrisann Brennan. I'll admit, I'm not terribly interested in the personal lives of the rich and famous so I didn't know much about Steve Jobs going into this book. To say he was a difficult man is an understatement, to say he was cruel, emotionally distant and often emotionally abusive towards his It was a struggle to read this book. The writing is brilliant and luminous, but the story is hard. Lisa Brennan-Jobs grew up as the unexpected and often unacknowledged daughter of Steve Jobs and artist Chrisann Brennan. I'll admit, I'm not terribly interested in the personal lives of the rich and famous so I didn't know much about Steve Jobs going into this book. To say he was a difficult man is an understatement, to say he was cruel, emotionally distant and often emotionally abusive towards his daughter is closer to the truth. In this book Lisa shares in exquisite and uncompromising detail, what it is like to grow up feeling abandoned and unwanted. Even her mother, who was a constant presence, was unable to provide the stability and emotional security a young child requires. Often as I was reading I wondered if Lisa was better off before her father acknowledged her rather than after she went to live with him. His ability to withdraw approval and affection were callous and calculated. He seems unable to connect emotionally with everyone around him, and his conversations and actions are often disconnected, if not wildly inappropriate. Lisa's writing is poetic and filled with nostalgic images and experiences of what it was like to grow up in the 1980's. Her memories are sharp and vibrant, evoking a visceral response from the reader. Even while she speaks of the ambivalence of her relationship with her father and the turbulence of her relationship with her mother, she remains firmly rooted in place and time in which she grew up. Her sense of place and time shine throughout the memoir and are as much a part of the story as the people who inhabit it. While this book isn't an easy read by any means, it is a worthy one. Brennan-Jobs writing genius is certainly equal to her father's technical expression. I look forward to reading more from this author.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sutherland

    Lisa Brennan-Jobs is without a doubt a phenomenal writer, but I'm not sure that Small Fry did all that it could have. Many chapters (particularly near the beginning) felt randomly pieced together -- for instance, naming a character on one page then explaining who they were several chapters later. Again, eloquently written, but the organization seemed out of whack. Other reviews have mentioned this, but I also am not 100% sure that Brennan-Jobs has figured out what she makes of her father. Small F Lisa Brennan-Jobs is without a doubt a phenomenal writer, but I'm not sure that Small Fry did all that it could have. Many chapters (particularly near the beginning) felt randomly pieced together -- for instance, naming a character on one page then explaining who they were several chapters later. Again, eloquently written, but the organization seemed out of whack. Other reviews have mentioned this, but I also am not 100% sure that Brennan-Jobs has figured out what she makes of her father. Small Fry shows him at his worst, denying paternity and ultimately forcing his daughter and her mother to go on welfare for years, and the way the book is written doesn't scream "forgiveness" to me despite what the author has said she hoped to get across. Her relationship with her father was without a doubt a tenuous one, but I can't help but wonder if a few more years to process would've made this a stronger book.

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