Stepping forward with her own version of her complicated relationship with father Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, debut author Brennan-Jobs adds to the Jobs lore with this distinctive memoir. Born to Chrisann Brennan, an early girlfriend of Jobs's (they met during high school and never married), the author details the adversarial and litigious relationship between her parents during her Bay Area upbringing. From her child's perspective, Jobs appeared remote but fascinating and alluring, while Brennan, although emotionally reactive, was a source of support and love. The relationship Brennan-Jobs eventually "enjoyed" with her father was never comfortable, and her position in his universe never seemed to her to be as secure as that of her stepfamily's. While some revelations about Jobs's idiosyncratic behavior might be seen as settling scores, the narrative provides unvarnished truths about the author's own actions while attempting to create a relationship with the elusive tech visionary. VERDICT Jobs's many devotees will seek out this account, which deals less with innovation than with emotion. [See Prepub Alert, 3/12/18.]—Thérèse Purcell Nielsen, Huntington P.L., NY
Small Fry, an entrancing memoir…will force readers to grapple with whether Jobs was not merely unmenschlike but a monster. It is not a stretch to say that if you read this book, you will never think of Jobs the same way again…Brennan-Jobs is a deeply gifted writer…from the striking opening…it is clear that this is a work of uncanny intimacy. Her inner landscape is depicted in such exquisitely granular detail that it feels as if no one else could possibly have written it. Indeed, it has that defining aspect of a literary work: the stamp of a singular sensibility. In the fallen world of kiss-and-tell celebrity memoirs, this may be the most beautiful, literary and devastating one ever written.
The New York Times Book Review - Melanie Thernstrom
In her incisive debut memoir, writer Brennan-Jobs explores her upbringing as the daughter of Apple founder Steve Jobs and Chrisann Brennan, an artist and writer (the couple never married). The book opens with Jobs’s deteriorating health from cancer, but the author quickly backtracks to her early childhood, filling in details of her birth (including Jobs’s initial denial of paternity, a claim debunked through DNA testing). Brennan-Jobs’s narrative is tinged with awe, yearning, and disappointment. Initially, Brennan-Jobs lived with her mother, who supplemented welfare with waitressing and cleaning houses. In time, Jobs became interested in his daughter, and in high school Brennan-Jobs lived with him, becoming the go-to babysitter for his son with his wife, Laurene Powell. Later, when Brennan-Jobs declined a family trip to the circus, Jobs, citing family disloyalty, asked her to move out and stopped payment on her Harvard tuition (a kindly friend offered aid, which Jobs later repaid). Bringing the reader into the heart of the child who admired Jobs’s genius, craved his love, and feared his unpredictability, Brennan-Jobs writes lucidly of happy times, as well as of her loneliness in Jobs’s spacious home where he refuses to bid her good-night. On his deathbed, his apology for the past soothes, she writes, “like cool water on a burn.” This sincere and disquieting portrait reveals a complex father-daughter relationship. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick Literary. (Sept.)
Praise for Small Fry A NEW YORK TIMES AND NEW YORKER TOP 10 BOOK OF THE YEAR A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR FOR NPR, AMAZON, GQ, VOGUE (UK), BUSTLE, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, AND INDIGO A 35 UNDER 35 DEBUT AUTHOR “Entrancing... Brennan-Jobs is a deeply gifted writer… Her inner landscape is depicted in such exquisitely granular detail that it feels as if no one else could have possibly written it. Indeed, it has that defining aspect of a literary work: the stamp of a singular sensibility… Beautiful, literary, and devastating.” New York Times Book Review “An intimate, richly drawn portrait… Small Fry is a memoir of uncommon grace, maturity, and spare elegance… The reader of this exquisite memoir is left with a loving, forgiving remembrance and the lasting impression of a resilient, kindhearted and wise woman who is at peace with her past.” San Francisco Chronicle “Extraordinary… An aching, exquisitely told story of a young woman’s quest for belonging and love.” People “Mesmerizing, discomfiting reading…A book of no small literary skill.” New Yorker “This heartfelt, emotional and exceedingly well-written coming-of-age memoir is a warts-and-all portrait, laced with resilience and healing… Brennan-Jobs is an outstanding storyteller, and her empowering tale of overcoming dysfunctional family relationships with haunt readers.” Shelf Awareness “It’s gratifying to see [Ms. Brennan-Jobs] assert her authority as the owner of her narrative. Writing with enlightened panache and dry humor, she’s as keen a witness to the ambience of the Bay Area in the 1980’s and 1990’s…as she is to the behavior of the adults around her…Never having felt safe in any of her father’s houses, [she] has built her own house in memoir form, a repository of her love and anger and mourning…It’s alive in all the rough edges of its feelings, and it’s home.” Wall Street Journal “[ Small Fry] is a story of a girl growing up in 1980s and ’90s California trying to fit into two very different families and not belonging in either. It’s the story of her single mother trying to keep it together and often not succeeding. It’s the story of a family that is as imperfect as every family, things complicated by wealth, fame and, in the end, illness and death." Associated Press “Beautifully written and psychologically acute… [Brennan-Jobs] establishes herself as a truly talented writer, whose gift for description and structure equals her hard-won tolerance of human frailty.” The Tablet (UK) “Revelatory… Her exquisitely written prose allows Brennan-Jobs to – painfully, complexly, heroically – reclaim her own story.” Entertainment Weekly, “Best Books to Read in September” “The sleeper critical hit of the season.” Vulture “Beautifully written… the currency of this book is love.” The Times UK “A masterly Silicon Valley gothic… The bohemian landscape she captures will be virtually unrecognizable to anyone who equates this slice of Northern California with Teslas and tiger moms… Of the book’s myriad achievements, the greatest might be making [this] story her own.” Vogue "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 toor exceedsthe parent's reputation, but that is the case with Brennan-Jobs' debut. 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… An exquisitely rendered story of family, love, and identity." Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Brennan-Jobs’s narrative is tinged with awe, yearning, and disappointment… Bringing the reader into the heart of the child who admired Jobs’s genius, craved his love, and feared his unpredictability." Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Brennan-Jobs skillfully relays her past without judgement... staying true to her younger self. It is a testament to her fine writing and journalistic approach that her memoir never turns maudlin or gossipy. Rather than a celebrity biography, this is Brennan-Jobs's authentic story of growing up in two very different environments, neither of which felt quite like home.” Booklist (starred review) “Here is a literary coming-of-age memoir of the highest order, the story of a child trying to find her place between two radically different parents, identities, and worlds. Compassionate, wise, and filled with finely-wrought detail, Small Fry is a wonder of a book, and Lisa Brennan-Jobs is a wonder of a writer.” Jamie Quatro “As clear-eyed, amusing, honest, unsentimental and sad as any memoir I’ve read in years. The prose sparkles, the vision behind it is ruefully compassionate and wise. No other book or film has captured Steve Jobs as distinctly as this one has. The love between father and daughter, thwarted and baffled as it often is, comes through beautifully.” Phillip Lopate “A gorgeous, compelling work of art and a dazzling coming-of-age story. This is a lovely, sweetly intimate portrait, a story told through the eyes of a daughter whose father struggled with his own originsand who almost became the father she hoped he would be.” Susan Cheever
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.