I rarely read memoirs or autobiographies, except I’ve heard so many people talk about I’m Glad My Mom Died. So I knew I had to listen to it. And listen because this is read by the author which lends itself to a special touch. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the Libro.fm. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
As someone who grew up around the same time iCarly was airing, I had always wondered about Jennette McCurdy. Her character was my favorite from the show, but I never saw her really afterwards. I was doubly intrigued when I saw this memoir mostly because I had heard nothing but rave reviews, and my previous exposure to her. And I have to agree. I’m Glad My Mom Died is heart wrenching. It’s a story about being forced to grow up before we’re ready.
And while I don’t think many of us can identify with the fame, this theme and so many Jennette McCurdy talks about resonate so deeply. The threads of religious trauma, toxic family relationships, deep shame of our bodies, and intergenerational inherited trauma. And while the majority of what resonates and what made listening to I’m Glad My Mom Died is the coverage of these subjects, how difficult it is to talk about, and how often no one speaks up, there’s also levity.
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I’m Glad My Mom Died is one of those memoirs which breaks our heart and helps put it back together. Having McCurdy read it herself is truly special and honestly unparalleled. We can all become caged in our lives, where we look around and can’t figure out how we got there. All the times we ignore our instincts, mold our lives into pleasing someone else. If you have been intrigued, just like I was, this is a must read. It’s something I can easily see myself listening to again. Find I’m Glad My Mom Died on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org, The Book Depository, Libro.fm & Google Play.