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I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Genre: Non-Fiction < Memoir
- Audience: Adult
- Pages: 320 (hardcover)
A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life. Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income. In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants. Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair.
“It doesn’t help that I’m famous for a thing I started when I was a kid. I think of what it would be like if everyone was famous for a thing they did when they were thirteen: their middle school band, their seventh-grade science project, their eighth grade play. The middle school years are the years to stumble, fall, and tuck under the rug as soon as you’re done with them because you’ve already outgrown them by the time you’re fifteen. But not for me. I’m cemented in people’s minds as the person I was when I was a kid. A person I feel like I’ve far outgrown. But the world won’t let me outgrow it. The world won’t let me be anyone else. The world only wants me to be Sam Puckett… I was not the one who dreamed of being famous. Mom was. Mom pushed this on me.”I’m Glad my mom died, p. 220
This has been a highly anticipated release for me, despite the fact that it’s non-fiction and the only nonfiction books I’ve ever read (making up an impressive total of about 3) have been self-help.
I can’t count the number of endorsement quotes—on the dust jacket, and elsewhere—that have described this book as varying combinations of the same two adjectives: heartbreaking and hilarious, painfully funny, comedic and traumatic, sad and hysterical, devastating and entertaining, humorous and heart-wrenching, etc.
For the most part, these ring true. But I want to be very clear whenever I warn you that the so-called “funny” moments are few and far between.
In fact, Jennette’s story is told with a dry humor that’s less outright funny and more ironic, sarcastic, and even disturbing. This, however, does not detract from the story that needs telling. In fact, in my opinion, it only works to highlight the challenges she faced and face the brutal content head on, without filter.
My issue sometimes, with more laugh-out-loud humor, is that it sheds light on experiences that sometimes, should not be lightened.
In this case, Jennette did a fantastic job navigating the tenuous relationship between humor and trauma.
The accounted experiences are dark and terrible, yet fascinating and compelling at the same time. The subtle irony and sarcastic, dry-humor Jennette skillfully employs to tell her story perfectly illustrates the horrifying abuse and stomach-churning manipulation she suffered for over a decade, while also honestly portraying the complexity of navigating life after—including the confusion, addiction, disordered thinking, and grief she had to confront after realizing the mother she idealized her entire life wasn’t as deserving of it as she’d been raised to believe.
This read was difficult to get through, emotionally. But at the same time, I flew through it rapidly, at a pace I never would have deemed possible for me regarding any work of nonfiction.
I’m Glad My Mom Died will haunt me for a long time to come. Reading this memoir was a harrowing experience… as the further I delved in, the more my childhood unravelled.
Just as Jennette has idealized notions of her mother, I also had grown up having idealized notions of what Jennette’s life must be like behind the scenes of iCarly. As I child, I often envied her and Miranda, and other celebrities I looked up to who starred on my favorite movies and TV shows. I had this lush, entirely fabricated idea of how extravagant their lives were behind the scenes, and to this day, I’d never bothered to see if any of it was untrue. I just believed that there was no way that childhood stars such as Jennette could have had it terrible.
Of course, you don’t need to be familiar with iCarly or Jennette McCurdy at all to be invested in this story, or to empathize with her so deeply.
But it sure does hurt on another level if you grew up watching her work. If she grew up alongside you, even if it was just through a TV screen. And now I know for sure that I will never be able to watch another episode of iCarly without getting teary eyed, and feeling inevitable guilt and sorrow every time I watch her act—just knowing she never wanted this, that iCarly and her acting career before and after, were painful and extremely harmful to her mentally, emotionally, and physically.
In many ways, a show that made my childhood… destroyed hers.
Jennette covers a multitude of triggering content that I must warn potential readers about. This is not a read for the faint hearted, either. Jennette delves into subjects such as eating disorders, narcissism, manipulation, gas-lighting, sexual abuse, physical boundaries being violated repeatedly, toxic family dynamics, depression, child abuse, fatphobia, grooming, etc.
I will end with saying this read was enchanting, inspiring, and humbling. It hits deep, and I respect Jennette McCurdy so much, and wish her the best. Definitely a 2022 favorite, and I thank her for sharing her story and encourage you to pick it up, too.
- Narcissistic parenting
- Emotional manipulation & gaslighting
- Sexual abuse
- Eating Disorders, fat phobia, body dysmorphia
- Toxic relationships
- Graphic content
I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdyI'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
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Let’s Chat in the Comments!
What’s the last memoir you read that you’d recommend to others? Is there a celebrity that turned out not to lead the life behind the scenes that you might have expected?