I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication date: August 9, 2022
Genres: Book Clubs, Debut, Non-fiction, Memoir, Pop culture
How to review a memoir with a title so jarring I felt bad for even looking at it? Especially as my mother has always been one of the biggest supporters of my writing and reads every review (Hi, Mom, I love you!). Here goes. Jennette McCurdy was a child actor on a popular Nickelodeon show called iCarly. Now in her mid-thirties she’s released her memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died. The guilt is rolling off me in waves for even wanting to read such a book, but I did and the title is the least alarming thing about it.
McCurdy was raised in an extended Mormon family in California. Grandparents and parents worked multiple jobs in order to pay the bills and Jennette and her brothers were homeschooled. McCurdy’s mother had dreamed of a Hollywood career but when that didn’t materialize, she turned the full force of her focus onto 5-year-old Jennette, who had no interest in acting, but wanted to please her mercurial mother. Happy mom meant less screaming and throwing of things at home. And so began a disturbing life of co-dependence and manipulation that lasted well into Jennette’s adult years.
I’m Glad reads like a brainwashing textbook. Jennette’s mother’s aberrant behavior goes on for so long Jennette knows no other kind of maternal love. From the time she’s 6 her mother bathes her, ostensibly in order to properly care for her beautiful blonde hair. This continues until she is a teenager and often includes showering with one of her brothers at the same time. Because only a mother knows what is best for her children.
When she begins to develop at age 11, her mother tells her the only way to stop that from happening, because it will destroy her Nickelodeon career, is to restrict her calories. So, Jennette joins her mother in lunches of steamed vegetables and salads for dinner. This goes on for long enough that Jennette enters the realm of body dysmorphia and eating disorders, adding excessive exercise to her regimen. By the time she’s on her own, Jennette is a functioning alcoholic who blithely mixes booze and pills throughout her day even while working.
While the title is meant to jolt (and I’m sure, spur sales) neither Jennette’s writing or her voice is outraged or provocative. She’s simply stating the facts of her life as she lived it. Only now after extensive therapy, does she understand the damage done to her mental and physical health. It’s the reader who will respond with shock and disbelief. And quite frankly, as uncomfortable and unnatural as it is to hear for most of us, Jennette’s earned the right to say I’m Glad My Mom Died.
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