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Small Fry summary

Lisa Brennan-Jobs

A captivating memoir by the daughter of Apple founder Steve Jobs

4.2 (51 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs is a memoir that reveals the complicated relationship between the author and her father, Steve Jobs. The book explores themes of family, identity, and the challenges of growing up with a famous and sometimes absent parent.

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    Small Fry
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    The on-and-off relationship of Lisa’s parents ended in an unintentional pregnancy.

    It was the spring of 1972. Steve Jobs was in his senior year at Homestead High School, in Cupertino, California, and he’d just met Chrisann Brennan, a junior. On Wednesday evenings, in the high school quad, Chrisann would assist a group of friends who were making a claymation film. On one of these evenings, seventeen-year-old Steve approached her with a sheet of paper in his hands.

    He’d typed out the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.” He handed Chrisann the paper and, strangely enough, told her to return it to him when she was done. He returned on subsequent Wednesdays, holding candles between takes for Chrisann so that she could add to drawings for the film.

    Thus began Chrisann and Steve’s on-again, off-again relationship. It would last nearly six years.

    In that first year, they fell in love. One of Steve’s biggest gestures was to stand up to Virginia, Chrisann’s mother, who was affected by paranoid schizophrenia and was becoming increasingly unhinged and harsh. She’d started telling the neighbors that Chrisann had intercourse with dogs and had accused her daughter of playing the recorder because it resembled a penis.

    In the summer, Chrisann and Steve moved into a cabin together, paying the rent with the money Steve and his friend Steve Wozniak earned from making and selling “blue boxes” – illegal devices that, when held up to a phone’s receiver, emitted a series of tones that fooled phone companies into putting calls through for free.

    In the fall, Steve left for Reed College in Oregon. But he was directionless, and he dropped out after about half a year. Chrisann, meanwhile, had begun dating someone else, and the relationship fell apart without much conversation.

    When Steve realized that Chrisann had essentially dumped him, he was deeply upset.

    About two years later, they got back together, and Chrisann started working in the packing department of the nascent company that Steve had started with Wozniak – a company they’d named Apple.

    But Chrisann was unhappy. Indeed, she’d been planning to leave Steve, who was temperamental, but an unintentional pregnancy put a kink in her plans. Unbeknownst to her, her body had rejected the contraceptive she was using, an intrauterine device.

    When Steve found out, he was furious and ran from the room.

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    What is Small Fry about?

    Small Fry (2018) is a candid and intimate memoir, tracing the author’s life from her birth to the death of her father, Steve Jobs. Beyond giving readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Apple’s founder, the book offers an incisive portrait of a Californian childhood.

    Small Fry Review

    Small Fry (2018) is a captivating memoir by Lisa Brennan-Jobs, the daughter of Steve Jobs. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With candid honesty, Brennan-Jobs shares her complex relationship with her father, giving readers an intimate and thought-provoking insight into the extraordinary world of Silicon Valley.
    • The book explores themes of identity, love, and forgiveness, as Brennan-Jobs navigates her way through childhood in the shadows of her famous parent, making it a deeply personal and relatable story.
    • Through vivid storytelling and poignant reflections, the author not only presents the human side of Steve Jobs but also offers a universal exploration of family dynamics, resilience, and self-discovery.

    Who should read Small Fry?

    • Fans and critics of Steve Jobs
    • Memoir enthusiasts
    • Tech heads with a literary bent

    About the Author

    Lisa Brennan-Jobs, an American writer, is Steve Jobs’s first child. Small Fry is her first book.

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    Small Fry FAQs 

    What is the main message of Small Fry?

    The main message of Small Fry is a daughter's perspective on her complicated relationship with her famous father, Steve Jobs.

    How long does it take to read Small Fry?

    The reading time for Small Fry varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Small Fry a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Small Fry is a captivating memoir that offers an intimate look into the personal life of one of the most influential figures in technology. It's definitely worth a read.

    Who is the author of Small Fry?

    The author of Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs.

    What to read after Small Fry?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Small Fry, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo
    • Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg
    • To Pixar and Beyond by Lawrence Levy
    • Strategy Rules by David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano
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    • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
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