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.
Wow. Heartbreaking and raw.
TW: eating disorders, sexual content, abuse. I have been a fan of McCurdy for years. I loved iCarly, but there was something about the show that followed that felt forced. After reading I’m Glad My Mom Died, it all makes sense. I have to warn you, this is not a happy book, in fact, there is little happiness within these pages.
McCurdy starts at the beginning of her acting career. She paints her childhood home clearly, then slowly begins to crack into the relationship she held with her mother. At first, her mother seems high-strung, but then it unfolds. McCurdy bluntly shares her mother was more than a helicopter parent, she controlled every aspect of McCurdy’s life. I was left wondering how does this happen to children?
Mild spoilers ahead.
When money becomes tight, McCurdy is convinced to become an actor. She lands a few rolls, but to those around her, it is clear she is not the one who wants to act. That is everyone but her mother. This is what broke my heart the most, people around McCurdy could have stopped the madness…but this is always easier to say looking back. McCurdy attends dance classes, acting classes, auditions, shoots, and practices her lines while her mother calculates how many calories she can eat that day. Why? So McCurdy can appear younger and get that coveted lead character role. Not only that, but her mother washed her hair and body before auditions to ensure McCurdy appears just right.
Once McCurdy’s mother is on her deathbed, McCurdy spirals further into a destructive cycle. I found the first half of the book to be sad, but the second half to be truly tragic. McCurdy clearly struggled, but her family was of almost no help. Her grandmother played similar games to McCurdy’s mother, asking for money but also verbally abusing her. My only complaint is the lack of closure, I felt like McCurdy could have had a few more chapters to explore “recovery” life and her newly discovered family.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. If you want to take a deep dive into Jennette McCurdy’s life or enjoy celebrity memoirs, you need to snag a copy of I’m Glad My Mom Died. I was hooked from the first few pages and finished it in one night. I wish McCurdy nothing but years of healing.
Should you read I’m Glad My Mom Died?
Yes! McCurdy offers insight into what life can be like for a child actor. While her experiences are mostly negative, I think it is an important look into the industry.
I’ve been so intrigued by this book for a while now and your review definitely makes me want to pick it up.
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I hope you do! I’d love to hear your thoughts!