Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SMALL FRY by Lisa Brennan-Jobs Kirkus Star



Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2823-2
Publisher: Grove

An epic, sharp coming-of-age story from the daughter of Steve Jobs.

It’s rare to find a memoir from a celebrity’s child in which the writing is equal to—or exceeds—the parent’s reputation, but that is the case with Brennan-Jobs’ debut. The author engagingly packs in every detail of her life, including her seemingly innocuous conception by Jobs and artist Chrisann Brennan, her father’s paternity denial, their rocky reconciliation, and Jobs’ ultimate rejection and silence. In a lesser writer’s hands, the narrative could have devolved into literary revenge. Instead, Brennan-Jobs offers a stunningly beautiful study of parenting that just so happens to include the co-founder of Apple. With a background in journalism, she skillfully and poignantly navigates her formative years, revealing the emotional wounds that parents can often visit upon their children. From Jobs’ refusal to pay for her college to his ongoing refutation that his first personal computer, the Apple Lisa, was named for her, she describes a master of mental and emotional manipulation: “ ‘Well, then, who was it named after?’ ‘An old girlfriend,’ he said, looking off into the distance, as if remembering. Wistful. It was this dreamy quality that made me believe he was telling the truth, because otherwise it was quite an act….I had a strange feeling in my stomach…[and was] starting to believe I was calibrated wrong.” Not until Jobs was on his deathbed did he finally admit to his daughter that the Apple Lisa was named after her. But why lie? Why purposely hurt your child and then, a moment later, display enormous affection? Those are some of the questions the author wrestles with as she examines her youth. Of course, the book also includes enough celebrity gossip to please tabloid lovers, but this is not a tell-all; it’s an exquisitely rendered story of family, love, and identity.

Brennan-Jobs benefits from her father’s story, but her prose doesn’t require his spotlight to shine.