Book Review: I’m Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy

By Katherine Itacy

Genre(s): Memoir


Jennette McCurdy might’ve been a child actor of iCarly and Sam & Cat fame, she might’ve acted alongside Ariana Grande and Miranda Cosgrove and had a brief country music career and attended countless kid’s award shows, but it’s never the life or career or childhood she wanted. It was her mother’s dream for herself, which, when unfulfilled, was then imposed upon Jennette.

But this memoir is about so much more than a stage mom/momager forcing her child to help support their family and achieve fame and success for all the wrong reasons.

From Jennette’s mom teaching an eleven-year-old Jennette about “calorie restriction” (a.k.a., anorexia) so she can delay maturation and keep getting younger acting roles, to Jennette’s father misspelling her name on the first birthday card she can ever remember receiving from him, to living in a hoarder’s house and having to sleep on cheap mats in the living room with her three brothers because their beds and bedrooms have been stockpiled with her mother’s purchases, to being called a “lying whore” by her mother and a “bitch” on multiple occasions by her grandmother, to a prepubescent girl being forced to not only be bathed by her mother, but also be bathed in the same bathtub as her naked teenaged brother, you’d think McCurdy’s memoir (while impactful) would be a bleak, depressing, heavy mess of a read. But it’s just the opposite.

McCurdy has a succinct, sarcastic, yet brutally honest and unfiltered way of writing that’s both enviable as a fellow memoirist and easily digestible as a reader. She has an ability to write about each event in her life with an incredible recall for exactly how she processed the event at that time in her life. There’s no reframing of the events through the wisdom and insight of her older self – it’s just the facts, ma’am, as a six-year-old relays how she experienced becoming an actress for the sole reason of fulfilling her mother’s dreams. How that six-year-old believes her purpose in life is to make her mother happy and to minimize the number of times and intensity with which her mother lashes out at the family (and in particular, her father).

Once we read about Jennette’s first exposure to therapy as an adult and her work with an eating disorder specialist, we learn how McCurdy felt being told for the first time that her mother’s behavior toward her was more than just manipulative, it was abuse. We read about her concerted efforts to stop binging and purging, to end her codependent relationship with her recently-diagnosed-as-schizophrenic boyfriend, and to break from a career that has had an all-too-unhealthy effect on her mental and physical health.

With short and concise chapters recalling each of her telling life events, I’m Glad My Mom Died is a refreshingly insightful, funny yet poignant memoir about a young woman taught in a variety of ways how to please nearly everyone but herself.

Though I’ve never seen iCarly, never been raised by a stage mom or endured nearly any of the struggles Ms. McCurdy has had to in her still young life, I can identify with overcoming an eating disorder, with sacrificing my health and my happiness for the sake of others, and with trying to separate my self-worth from my productivity.

In the unlikely event that you can’t relate to any of her life experiences, you’re still likely to enjoy Jennette McCurdy’s endearing, laugh-inducing, thought-provoking, and sometimes gasp-prompting way of storytelling.

What a great read!

My Rating: 5/5

About the Author:

Jennette McCurdy is a former child actor of iCarly and Sam & Cat fame, who later starred in the Netflix series Between. After finding acting to be negatively impacting her physical and mental health, Ms. McCurdy ended her acting career and has written/directed a pilot and four short films. She has written pieces for Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal. She’s performed a one-woman show, entitled “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” before writing a memoir of the same name. McCurdy also hosts a podcast, “Empty Inside,” in which she discusses “uncomfortable topics” with her guests.

To learn more about the author, you can visit her website here.

I’m Glad My Mom Died is currently available on Amazon and at other stores where fine books are sold.

Katherine Itacy is the author of Relentless: From National Champion to Physically Disabled Activist (July 28, 2020, E.L. Marker). After medically retiring from practicing law, Katherine wrote her memoir, Relentless (which is available now in paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats on Amazon), and started “The Phunky Diabetic Podcast”(which is available to stream on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and YouTube). She is also on the board of directors for the Rhode Island ACLU, an advocate for the Rare Disease Legislative Advocates (RDLA), a patient advisor for the All of Us Patient & Family Advisory Council (PFAC), and enjoys blogging about social justice and disability issues.


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