Narrator: Jennette McCurdy
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on August 9, 2022
Genres: Non Fiction, Biography
Length: 6 hours, 26 minutes
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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.
I’m Glad My Mom Died is not a book I’d typically pick up. I normally avoid anything with legitimate dysfunction. At the recommendation of my sister, I gave it a try. I’m Glad My Mom Died is an emotionally evocative memoir by Jenette McCurdy, a child actor who rose to fame as a primary cast member of the Nickelodeon TV show, ICarly. It is an effortless and engaging read that pulled a rainbow of emotions out of me before coming to a satisfying ending.
Getting the role of Sam Picket on ICarly was a dream come true, just not Jenette’s dream. As the author takes us through the highs and lows of her acting career, it is evident that her path was influenced by a deep-rooted desire to please her mother. From the opening lines of the story, it is clear that Jenette’s star rises and sets with her mother. It is equally as obvious to the reader that her mother is emotionally and physically abusive, although the innocence in which the story is told seems to underscore how McCurdy would not know to expect anything else. The profound trust she shows for her mother and her willingness to harm herself (emotionally and physically) in order to please her mother highlight a destructive, codependent relationship that is nearly inescapable. Let’s just say, we can all be glad that her mom dies.
We didn’t watch ICarly, my kids were a little too young (not to mention we didn’t actually have TV), but I remember tidbits about the show and the characters. If she hadn’t written this memoir, one might assume that McCurdy had gone the way of most child stars and expect to see her pop up as celebrity contestant on a reality show desperate to recapture her fame or perhaps see her name in the Passages section of People Magazine. The truth is much more sobering. The author details her struggles with fame and with navigating an industry where youth and innocence are often exploited; and how these experiences shaped her self-perceptions. She describes the immense pressure she faced while trying to balance her personal identity with the expectations placed upon her from her mother, show creators, and fans.
She is forthright in her discussion about her struggles with addiction and her eating disorders. She doesn’t shy away from the grittiest part of her story and is real about how she still struggles to see the things her mother did as abuse. Ultimately, she shares her journey toward self-discovery and personal growth, shedding light on the transformative power of self-acceptance.
I’m Glad My Mom Died captivates readers with its raw vulnerability and unwavering honesty. With each turn of the page, Jenette McCurdy fearlessly explores the intricacies of her relationship with her late mother, showcasing the tangled web of love, dependence, and longing that so often underpins the mother-daughter dynamic. It is satisfying to know that she’s found healing, is doing something she loves, and is able to sustain healthy, long-term relationships.
I was told definitely that I needed to listen to this book rather than read it. Jenette’s words resonate deeply with the listener, perhaps even more so knowing that she is reading her own story. I would definitely agree with my sister that the audio book a must in this case. The pacing is neutral and the narration is easy to understand.
Listen to the clip: HERE
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