cover image Small Fry: A Memoir

Small Fry: A Memoir

Lisa Brennan-Jobs. Grove, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2823-2

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.)