Book Review: I’m Glad My Mom Died

Being the oldest child of five with an 11-year gap from me to my youngest sister, I’ve often been more aware of media aimed at a younger audience than some of my peers. Sometimes, this introduced me to content which resonated more than I expected, such as Avatar the Last Airbender or the Series of Unfortunate Events books. Most often, the result is more forgettable, like… well, a dozen other shows and movies which have slipped through my mind. All that to say, even though I was in college during the heyday of her Nickelodeon shows, I was aware of iCarly and its spinoff, Sam and Cat. So, when I saw an interview with Jennette McCurdy about her tumultuous journey to stardom and her relationship with her mother, I was intrigued. 

And, come on, look at that title! I needed to know more. 

Content warnings: Emotional abuse, addiction, eating disorders, and blunt, but not graphic, sexual content.

The Basics:

Title: I’m Glad My Mom Died
Author: Jennette McCurdy
Genre: Memoir, Autobiography, Non-Fiction, Inspiration, Humor
Published: Simon and Schuster, 2022

Spoiler-Free Summary: 

This is a memoir of a relatively young public figure. Chances are you think you know some of this story. I promise, you don’t know half of it. I think most people are vaguely aware that the looming stage-mom-zillas and exploitative studio execs at standing behind the most popular children’s shows are, at best, mildly toxic. This memoir is more than a sad tale of a struggling kid pushed too hard too early. Everyone who achieves silver screen success without nepotism has to sacrifice everything on the altar of fame. There is no such thing as a child star with a normal childhood. 

No, the real heart of this story is the complicated, co-dependent, emotionally abusive, life-defining relationship between the author and her mother. Her mom fantasized about being a movie star, but her parents squashed that goal. She responds by going to extremes to vicariously fulfill that dream through her young daughter, who is the consummate people-pleaser. The mother’s strong desire to control blended with the daughter’s willingness to bend over backwards is a recipe for an incredibly unhealthy relationship. This unhealthy dynamic is compounded tenfold by the gauntlet that is Hollywood culture.

McCurdy’s struggle with the emotional scars and mental health challenges this relationship inflicts on her is equally jarring, moving, and inspiring. 

Why You Will Love This Book… 

Told as a series of ephemeral snapshot-like scenes in a brutally honest voice, I’m Glad My Mom Died is a quick read that drags you along for its increasingly challenging ride. In the end, despite all she goes through, McCurdy’s story ends on a hopeful note as she learns how to thrive despite her pain; scarred, but unbroken. If you can weather the second-hand emotional storm and are interested in inspirational non-fiction, this might be the book for you. 

Where Can You Learn More: 

I personally found this interview intriguing. Perhaps you will as well.

Happy reading, folks.

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