I’m Glad My Mom Died
I’ve been waiting for months to read this memoir about the actress who played Sam Puckett on the popular Nickelodeon show iCarly (and the short-lived spin-off, Sam & Cat). iCarly ran from 2007 – 2012 and my family and I have seen all the episodes. Fans loved Sam’s sassy, strong-willed personality, but off-screen, Jennette fought battles against anorexia and bulimia, brought on by her controlling and abusive mother. As an older teen she used alcohol to escape her mother’s control.
In her memoir, Jennette takes an honest look at her mother, Debra, their intense relationship, and the manipulative pressure Debra put on her to act. The youngest of four children, and the only daughter, Jennette describes a chaotic and dysfunctional family life, homeschooled in a nearly unlivable house because of her mother’s hoarding and their parents’ unstable relationship. Debra, who survived cancer when Jennette was two, used her illness for attention, and every week forced the family to rewatch a home video about her battle. For Jennette, relief came only once a week when they went to their Mormon church.
At age six, Jennette began acting, the career her mother had wanted for herself. Debra controlled her daughter’s every move and taught her how to cut calories to delay puberty, a strategy to prolong her child acting career. Wanting to please her mother, she agreed. “If I start to grow up, Mom might not love me as much,” she writes.
Jennette talks about her experience on iCarly, her close friendship with Miranda Cosgrove (Carly on the show) and of “The Creator” (Dan Schneider), who once forced her to model a skimpy bikini for him. She writes “I feel like The Creator has two distinct sides…He can make you feel like the most important person in the world.” She adds, however, “The other side is mean-spirited, controlling, and terrifying. The Creator can tear you down and humiliate you.”
Oh, what a sad trap. Jennette only wants to please her mother and her mother won’t let her go. Jennette recognizes the trap while Debra is alive, but can’t break away, out of guilt, loyalty and things she doesn’t yet understand. She’s free in a sense when her mother dies, but it takes years of therapy to overcome her eating disorders and learn how to develop normal relationships. As an adult, Jennette must also process a shocking revelation about her father.
I’m Glad My Mom Died is a fast, engrossing read, written in humble humor. It’s not the typical celebrity memoir in the sense that McCurdy focuses on her own battles and does little name dropping. I don’t think she wrote this to impress readers. I think she wrote it to help others better understand abusive relationships and eating disorders. A few sloppy errors took away from the reading experience, but that’s on the editors and publisher. The message rings true, however and provides a good reminder that actors aren’t the people they portray.
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35 thoughts on “Book Review: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy”
I want to read this memoir. I saw a brief interview with McCurdy and became intrigued. Thanks for this review.
Hi Ally – I found it consuming and wanted to step in and help her. I’m glad McCurdy found the strength to overcome many of her problems. Thanks for the visit 🙂
I saw this online recently and was intrigued! Thanks for the further info. What a sad story.
Hi Betsy – yes, it’s been getting a lot of attention. McCurdy also has a podcast and has been interviewed a bunch. Definitely a sad story. Thank you for stopping by and commenting 🙂
What a terrible life for a child. Situations like this make you wonder why someone didn’t step in.
Hi Noelle, I think because the whole family was dysfunctional, there was no one to step in. Plus the entertainment industry isn’t exactly looking after child actors. So that left her alone. That and the fact that she hid her problems. Thanks for stopping by.
I’m still debating this book
Yes, I understand that. It’s a fast read, though, so it wouldn’t be a big time investment. I started it Sunday morning and finished it Monday. Not great literature, but a story I was interested in. Thanks, LA!
My daughter never watched the show, but so many people are talking about the book, I feel like I should read it
Thanks for the review, Barbara. It’s a tragic story. I’m glad that she’s finally free, but recovery and healing take time.
Hi Rosaliene – yes, tragic despite all she’s overcome. And you’re right, recovery and healing take time, sometimes a long time. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂
Even the title suggests that actors are not the people they portray, but they are indeed, people–human beings with emotions that can be damaged by manipulative parents. I’m glad the author sees herself as someone in the process of healing, not still a victim.
You’ve written an insightful review, and I am often drawn to memoir, but I’ll probably pass on this one. Thanks, Barbara.
Hi Marian – ordinarilly, I probably would have passed on this. The title makes me uncomfortable, however, knowing McCurdy’s shows and seeing her grow up on television drew me to the book. Thank you for the visit.
I enjoy memoirs, but I’ve never heard of this person, so I’d take a pass. Your review is great, but that title doesn’t sit right with me. Maybe its just me. Thanks for sharing, Barbara.
Hi Jill – no I totally get what you mean. It’s an ugly title, very jarring. My kids grew up watching McCurdy on Nickelodeon so I felt like I knew McCurdy – turns out she hid a lot of problems. I’m glad to see she’s overcome many. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
What a title!
Yes, shocking and uncomfortable. As much as it is to get attention and sell books, I do think it describes McCurdy’s relationship with her mother. Thanks for the visit, JT 🙂
Thanks for the great review, Barbara.
Thank you, Lynette. Hope you are doing well – I appreciate you stopping by!
This sounds like an emotional book. Great review, Barbara!
Hi Priscilla – it’s shocking how manipulative McCurdy’s mother was. Such a dysfunctional family, too. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂
Hi, Barbara – I recently read another positive review of this book. As with Jill, the title doesn’t sit well with me either. Perhaps it is just the two of us — but I am glad not to be alone! 😀
Hi Donna – thank you for stopping by. The title is definitely controversial, designed, I think to make the reader uncomfortable. I understand how it puts off readers, but it does help to explain McCurdy’s relationship with her mother. Still, I know how you feel. You’re definitely not alone!
That title seems a little manipulatively-attention grabbing to me, but I do like memoirs. Thanks for the review!
Hi Lenore, yes, the title is questionable, but it definitely speaks to the subject. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂
I just finished this yesterday! I thought it was incredibly powerful and upsetting, and just need to get my thoughts together a bit in response. Great review! I think you really capture the spirit and impact of the book.
Hi Lisa! I started it on Sunday morning and finished it Monday afternoon. As you say, it was incredibly powerful and upsetting. Thank you for stopping by.
I listened to the audiobook, so it took me a little longer — and it was sometimes really painful to listen to her tell her story that way. But kudos to her for being so honest, even about the worst of her experiences.
I’m sure that was intense.
Hi Barbara, I have seen a few episodes of Sam and Cat but I don’t know iCarly. What a very sad story. So many of the child actor/esses have such sad stories including Judy Garland and McCauley Culkin.
Hi Robbie – you’re right. We just finished talking about this at dinner. It’s a cut throat industry and child actors have almost no one on their side. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂
It seems that so many child actors are damaged…. I hope her book helps others who are also struggling!
Hi Ann – I know – we just had a discussion at dinner about child actors and all the troubles they face. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂
I heard about this book, and now that you’ve reviewed it I might give it a try. Aptly named with a mother like that!
Hi Jennifer – we watched Jennette grow up on iCarly so I was interested to read about her. She had a lot of troubles. Definitely aptly named. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope you are doing well. I’ve been so busy with work and travel I haven’t had much free time for the blog. Things will calm down next week and I’ll stop by. Take care!
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