I had a hard time determining if this book was delightfully disturbing or disturbingly delightful. Lisa is Steve Jobs’ daughter, albeit unacknowledged for many years. It’s a memoir through Lisa’s eyes on what it’s like to be unacknowledged, then semi-acknowledged, then acknowledged when it’s too late. It’s a tragic story with redemption knocking at the door. Lisa’s writing is fantastic. It’s incredibly descriptive and raw. My heart would break at the end of nearly every chapter and yet she went on, just like she did with her life. She navigated intense joy and crippling sorrow. If you have an elevated view of Steve Jobs, this book will challenge that view. Here is something Lisa said about the book:
I still chuckle at the thought that someone might have picked up Small Fry assuming it was a celebrity memoir and then, to their surprise, found a reflection of their own childhood in the pages. Or they picked it up assuming it was about a famous man, only to be swept up by the story of a girl.
Someone once told me that we contain all the ages we ever were. Writing the book in a converted closet in Manhattan, I got to time travel—to spend days in the sunshine of a different California with my young parents. I got to see them from the dual perspective of a woman and a girl. At some point while I was writing, I read Tobias Wolf’s This Boy’s Life, and I noticed that when young Tobias was at his naughtiest I loved him most. So I began to apply that idea to myself. Maybe that’s the reason to write in the first place: to allow oneself to be so shamefully human and naïve and glamourless and then find that the world does not collapse but opens.
What’s interesting about what she wrote is that this book is all about Steve Jobs. Yes, it’s a memoir written by Lisa about herself, but Steve Jobs permeates everything. His words delight or (more often then not) destroy. His moods uplift or demoralize. His money paves the way or cuts off. Lisa’s joy, sense of self-worth, and understanding of who she is is all tied up in Steve. This book is absolutely the story of a famous man and his devastating impact on those closest to him.