Book Review: ‘Small Fry’ by Lisa Brennan-Jobs (Steve Jobs’ Daughter!)

small fry by lisa brennan jobs

This is probably the only book about Steve Jobs that you’ll need to read. Written by his daughter (the one born out of wedlock), the book provides an insight into Jobs’ personal life. He was definitely unprepared for fatherhood, tried to claim the baby wasn’t his, and eventually required a court order before he would contribute payments for the child’s upbringing. When he started a new family, Lisa was even roped in to be the unofficial nanny even though she was still a child herself. It did not help that her relationship with her mother was strained so she saw living with her father and his new family as an escape of sorts.

I can’t help but feel that Lisa has been robbed of a proper childhood. Maybe that’s why she feels the urge to pilfer things from her father’s home, even when she’s grown up and just visiting him when he’s ill. Sure, having such a smart, wealthy and respected father must have its perks (recommendation letters for any school you’d like to go to?), but the downside can be pretty extreme too.

While Steve Jobs may be said to have succeeded in certain areas of parenting (such as being terribly open about sex education, to the point of asking Lisa whether she masturbates), he has failed in so many others. I’m inclined to believe all accounts that he can be extremely mean at times. Lisa writes that while she was being the ‘nanny’ for Jobs’ latest offspring, he even refused to repair the heater in her room, stating that he’d have work done on the kitchen first before even considering to fix her room up. And even the kitchen’s not getting its renovation works done anytime soon. He basically has no idea how to be a parent and take care of a child’s basic needs. Never mind that he was already rolling in cash. He’d rather splash it on a fancy car. And yes, he’ll even give wait staff hell for getting his order of grated carrots wrong. (No amount of carrots could have saved him from dying of cancer anyway)

Read this book if you’d like to know how a man can give so much to this world in terms of his creativity, innovation and pure genius, but deprive his own daughter (his firstborn!) of so much too. Goes to show that neither genius nor wealth is sufficient when it comes to parenting. And whatever you do, don’t follow in his footsteps. I read Lisa’s account of how Steve Jobs would make out with his girlfriend or wife in Lisa’s presence, and she would be forced to stay and watch. If she felt uncomfortable and/or wanted to leave, he’d accuse her of not wanting to be part of this family.

This is a great book to read if you’d like to know what Steve Jobs is like outside of work. And maybe then, like me, you won’t care so much about his work anymore. (I’m very happy with my Samsung phone too! :P)