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Small Fry: A Memoir Hardcover – September 4, 2018

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,470 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of September 2018: When you finish Lisa Brennan-Jobs’ memoir of growing up as the daughter of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, you’ll feel sorry for her – not just because Jobs was a jerk a lot of the time, but because some readers will be too busy rubbernecking at her famous dad to notice what a great writer his daughter is. In Small Fry, Brennan-Jobs moves back and forth in time, balancing her memories of Jobs' often tough treatment of her (denying paternity, denying her adequate financial support, denying her the warmth and attention every child deserves) with his unpredictable moments of openness and generosity.

No wonder Brennan-Jobs is always nervous around her dad, breaking glasses, fluttering her hands: she’s lovesick, and uncertain that her love is requited. “My insides are jumping,” she writes in her high school diary after he unexpectedly seeks her out for time alone together. “When I tell him events, they come alive. When I don’t tell him, they don’t exist.”

In the end, Jobs, so rich and so famous, is just another parent who withholds what his children need to thrive. “How can it look so good but feels so bad?” Brennan-Jobs says of living in his house. Her aunt, the writer Mona Simpson, answers, “What else is money for… if not to make it look good?” This artfully constructed, self-critical memoir feels like so much more than axe-grinding: what does look good is Brennan-Jobs’s future as a writer. —Sarah Harrison Smith, Amazon Book Review

Review

Praise for Small Fry

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 INDIGOA 35 UNDER 35 DEBUT AUTHOR

TEEN VOGUE BOOK CLUB PICK

“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 to―or exceeds―the 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 origins―and who almost became the father she hoped he would be.” ―
Susan Cheever

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Grove Press; First Edition (September 4, 2018)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 400 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0802128238
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0802128232
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.5 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 1,470 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
1,470 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 21, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 7, 2018
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Top reviews from other countries

Susan Glazier
5.0 out of 5 stars An enormously thought provoking and interesting book - well written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on November 1, 2018
14 people found this helpful
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M. Lambert
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight into the mind of a young girl.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on November 1, 2018
6 people found this helpful
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Claire Zee
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful book, reads like a poem
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on May 13, 2020
One person found this helpful
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SAM
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 16, 2019
2 people found this helpful
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Neal McQuaid
4.0 out of 5 stars Raw, honest.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on November 23, 2018
2 people found this helpful
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