“Why do we romanticize the dead? Why can’t we be honest about them? Especially moms. They’re the most romanticized of anyone.”
Compelling and so complex. Jennette McCurdy should be proud to know that she is a fantastic writer and storyteller, which seems to be what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Acting? No thanks.
Literally pushed into acting at a very young age by a mother who saw Jennette as fulfilling her own lost dreams of stardom, the author is, in my opinion, lucky to be alive. I can’t imagine the bizarre reality of having a parent watch your every move, your every emotion and ultimately, your every morsel of food. That is what Jennette’s mom did. Crying on cue for an audition was viewed as a triumph.
Jennette’s (stolen) childhood was spent desperately trying to please her mother. If she didn’t, then the whole family paid the price with screaming and name-calling. The dad was noticeably emotionally and physically checked out which is explained later in the book.
“No one else in the family seems to understand Mom’s emotions. Everyone else walks around clueless, never knowing which Mom they’re going to get. But I always know. I’ve spent my whole life studying her so that I can always know, because I always want to do whatever I can in any given moment to keep or make Mom happy.”
Jennette wins a coveted part as the sidekick to Miranda Cosgrove on the popular Nickelodeon show “iCarly”. I was so glad to read that the two women developed a real friendship, even though it was heartbreaking to hear Miranda’s life described as normal by Jennette. All of Jennette’s insecurities and fears were magnified by the incredible popularity of the show, and more and more demands were placed on Jennette at a very tender age.
“The kind of fame I have now is causing me a level of stress that I did not know was possible. I know everybody wants it, and everybody tells me how lucky I am to have it, but I hate it.”
The author is a a very funny writer and there is lots of wit and sarcasm in this story. She has a lot of insight into her eating disorder which came about from years of intensive therapy. However, there is without a doubt a lot of heartbreak and pain in this story. There is a lost childhood and teenage years that she will never get back. Once you digest all of these painful realities, it is very easy to understand the title of this book. Beside feeling that her whole identity was tied to her mother, Jennette literally did not know who to be after her mom passed away. It was her mother who wanted her to be a star, not Jennette.
One of the most poignant passages in the book is this:
“I don’t like knowing people in the context of things. Oh, that’s the person I work out with. That’s the person I’m in a book club with. That’s the person I did that show with. Because once the context ends, so does the friendship. I yearn to know the people I love deeply and intimately—without context, without boxes—and I yearn for them to know me that way, too.”
Finally, I highly recommend the audiobook narrated by the author herself. To hear her story in her own voice is incredibly authentic and real!
About the Book:
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.