In Small Fry, Lisa Brennan-Jobs offers a unique spin on the typical coming-of-age memoir: her father happens to be Steve Jobs, inarguably one of the most celebrated contributors to the modern world. Jobs, however, despite his renown, his genius, and his fortune was not a particularly great father. Or even a good one. He was absent throughout most of Lisa's childhood, reappearing sporadically as she grew, only to reluctantly emerge when she was a teenager as an unpredictable, occasionally cruel, somewhat controlling, inscrutable man.
Brennan-Jobs pulls you into her universe within the first few pages of this compulsive page-turner of a book. Written with unexpected compassion, frankness, and honesty, she recounts growing up in 1980s northern California. Her upbringing was cleaved into two different worlds. In the first one, she was raised by her creative (but resentful and chronically unemployed) single mother. They moved around constantly and struggled to make ends meet. During the second half of her childhood, Lisa lived with Jobs in a new life of private schools, hobnobbing with celebrities, trips around the globe, and even an unearned admittance into Harvard University (Brennan-Jobs shamefully admits she leveraged her father's name to gain entrance into the Ivy League school). As Lisa navigates between these two vastly different lives, she struggles to find her own place in the world, stuck under the shadow of her famous father.
Brennan-Jobs's story is a common one: a child's longing for their parent's love and acceptance. Ultimately, she is forgiving as she tries to make sense of both her parent's dysfunction, and her own love for them is clear. She succeeds in never coming across as bitter or entitled, nor does she attempt to change the reader's opinion of Jobs. Her story is simply her own. Small Fry is recommended for (1) fans of memoirs (celebrity or otherwise), (2) Steve Jobs aficionados, or (3) anyone who wants to indulge in a quick and compelling read.
Recommended by Leah Staab