Small Fry The memo of Lisa Brennan Jobs is one of the best books I have read this year. Lisa tells the heartbreaking story of growing up in Silicon Valley, her loyalties split (and often torn) between her mother and her rich and famous father who had disavowed paternity and did not support the family.
The book's central theme is Lisa's complicated relationship with his parents. Steve was absent for the first six or seven years of Lisa's life, but the two became later. Lisa admits, even idolizing, him for his success and wealth. It is a strong contrast to her mother's unstable life, characterized by frequent movements, changing jobs and boyfriends, and never having enough money.
Lisa is in conflict with sharing her loyalty between her parents and they do not. Do not make it easy for her. When Lisa is about thirteen, she walks in with Steve and his wife Laurene. She wants to get away from the constant fighting with her mother, but she also hopes to win Steve's love and approval to make him fully accept her daughter. Steve does not make it easy for Lisa. He only invites her to his house on the condition that she makes a firm decision and does not see her mother at all for six months. Lisa agrees, but she never comes over blame:
I would leave my mother. I felt properly and guilty and numb. Perhaps this was the reason for the blame that grew me later and almost did not allow me to walk sometimes after I had moved in with them: After stolen youth and energy, she had driven her into a state of eternal anxiety without support or resources Now, as I flourished in school and loved by my teachers, I threw her out and picked him, the one who had left. I chose the beautiful place when she was the one who would read me books with old stories with reminders of not believing in the façade.
"I'm proud of you," he said.
Forcing your daughter to choose between you and her mother, and then tell her how proud you are when she chooses you. Nice parents.
Lisa tells many stories in the book where Steve was unfairly cruel to her. An example: Lisa often felt lonely in the big house, with her bedroom far from the others. That's how Steve Jobs reacted when she asked him to say good night to her:
"Hey, will you come and say goodnight to me sometimes?" I asked my dad and stood in the kitchen. I had built the courage after talking to Mona [Simpson, Lisa’s aunt, Steve’s sister].
"What?" He asked.
"Just a couple of nights a week," I said. "Because I'm lonely."
"No, sorry," he said, without stopping to think.
A few days later I asked Laurene, separately.
"Surely," she said.
I was flooded with gratitude and relief, the same feeling as when she drew me into photographs, the same feeling that made me shower her with rose petals and lantana flowers when she walked through the gate after work, so grateful that made me shocking as if they were called.
That evening she first came down, sat down on my bed and stretched her legs out. …
My father came down and sat beside the laurels on my bed. The joy and relief of this event made it difficult to relax, like trying to breathe in high winds. …
After that they did not come down again. I asked again, my dad said no, and I stopped mentioning it.
The book is full of WTF moments like this. Steve's meanness left me speechless at times. He could be incredibly cruel to the closest to him, perhaps even more cruel than to his colleagues. He often lets them feel their contempt for their actions or their pure existence.
Lisa never wins her father's unconditional love-at least that's how she feels. Steve regularly gives her not so subtle hints that he does not see her as a full member of her family, for example, when he asks her to leave family photographs with his and Laurens other children. Lisa's feelings vary between a sense of being guilty of his love because he left her as a baby and a desperate longing for approval, to be accepted in his life.
When she returns from a student exchange in Japan and gives her mom a kimono she bought her as a gift, her black mother probes her what gifts she bought for Steve and Laurene:
"Did you get the better gifts you received for me? "
" No, I gave you different gifts ̵1; nothing better or worse. "
" But you used more on them, "she said. How did she know? I should have bought her the best gifts because she had less money and could not buy them for herself. …
"I'm your mother and you should be more glory to me." …
How did she explain to me that I had bought them more expensive gifts because I was worried that they did not care about me and I wanted them to like me, to love myself? Together with them, the feeling I was loved and belonged to was tough, superficial, my place in their family not necessary or solid. They did not ask me questions about myself or seemed interested in me the way my mother was and it made me feel hungry to impress them. My mother already loved me. Even when she screamed at me, I knew. I was not so sure about them.
It's a deep sad story and beautifully written. Highly recommended.