Steve Jobs' daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs is opening up about how it felt to lose her father after a decades-long strained relationship — and responding to family members who have called her new memoir inaccurate

Steve Jobs‘ daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs is opening up about how it felt to lose her father after a decades-long strained relationship — and responding to family members who have called her new memoir inaccurate and hurtful.

In a conversation with Hoda Kotb on Today, Wednesday morning, Lisa, 40, called the writing process for Small Fry “really cathartic and in some ways very joyful to go back and spend time with my young parents. They were younger than I am now so it was nice to do that.”

“There is this really famous person in this story, but in many ways this coming of age story about a girl growing up in California in ’80s and ’90s is also a universal story,” she continued. “I think it’s easy to forget because there is this distraction of this famous person. We all have complexity in our lives.”

Steve, who died at the age of 56 in October 2011, is the legendary co-founder of Apple Inc., which became the first-ever U.S. company to reach $1 trillion in value last month.

He famously denied paternity of Lisa, whose mother was Chrisann Brennan, for years, even saying in court papers that he was “sterile and infertile, and as result thereof, did not have the physical capacity to procreate a child.” Steve would later marry Laurene Powell in 1991 and have three more children.

In the Wednesday interview, Kotb cited moments in the book that would be challenging for a child to witness — including an alleged incident where Steve refused to give Lisa’s mother money.

Lisa explained that she survived because she was “kind of a tough, little scrappy soul.” The author added that she didn’t really process some of the more disheartening situations with her father until she was older.

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Steve Jobs
| Credit: CUPERTINO, CA - APRIL 08: Apple CEO Steve Jobs speaks during an Apple special event April 8, 2010 in Cupertino, California. Jobs announced the new iPhone OS4 software. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“I think you save things from your past that you don’t quite understand and you put them in a box and you save them for later until you can unwrap them and try to understand what they meant,” she shared. “This whole book was a way to understand.”


Kotb further pressed Lisa over her feelings toward her father as a child.

“Some of the stories were really difficult,” Lisa answered. “I remember just feeling profound love and admiration because we did have joyful, tender, dear moments together.”

She went on to explain that she knew him better as an adult because “he made the decision to come back and get to know me because he hadn’t really been around when I was younger. But also I must’ve felt so confused and angry. It was some combination of these things.”

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
| Credit: Grove Atlantic

Lisa also recalled a particular story where she felt her father displayed a great deal of love. “My boyfriend was in a play and it was freezing cold and he didn’t have a sweater because he didn’t know how cold it was,” she said. “But he didn’t complain and sat through the whole thing because he knew how important it was to me.”

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“At the very end he was so apologetic about the times we had missed together, and the thing he kept on saying was, ‘I owe you one’ and ‘I’m so sorry,’ ” she recalled.

But Lisa noted that forgiveness didn’t come quite so easily because initially she “felt a little bit paralyzed… I wished that we had more time together, and I think he wished that too because we did like each other, and when we got along it was kinda great.”

Small Fry, released on Sept. 4, has already strummed up some controversy. Other members of the Jobs family, including Steve’s wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, her children and his sister, Mona Simpson, responded to a recent New York Times profile of Lisa in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

“Lisa is part of our family, so it was with sadness that we read her book, which differs dramatically from our memories of those times. The portrayal of Steve is not the husband and father we knew. Steve loved Lisa, and he regretted that he was not the father he should have been during her early childhood,” the family said. “It was a great comfort to Steve to have Lisa home with all of us during the last days of his life, and we are all grateful for the years we spent together as a family.”

And while the author understands their feelings — “I’ve been writting about it since I was 3 years old… I know that it can be really difficult to read about your own life… in someone else’s words” — she isn’t backing down.

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Lisa Brennan-Jobs
| Credit: Splash News

“I believe people have the right to tell their own story as honestly and accurately as they can,” she told Kotb, adding, “This book is about so much more than my father. Of course, it involves my complicated family but it’s also a coming of age story about me. So if you’re gonna read the 400 pages you also have to buckle up for whispering in libraries and dangly earrings and adolescent angst and all of that.”