Tuesday, August 15, 2023

August Read from the Shelves: I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy


I've been dilly-dallying between four books the past few weeks and not finishing any of them. When that happens I do what's probably counterintuitive and pick up a whole different book and read it. I've had this memoir in my stacks for a few months and decided to dive in and reset my reading mojo.

Whoa. Lots and lots of some pretty hard stuff in this memoir. Not a read for people who may have experienced physical or mental abuse; eating disorders, or alcohol abuse. I've read a few interviews with Jennette and she said she decided on this title because she wanted it to grab people's attention, and also because she knew her three brothers would immediately get it and understand. I think it's safe to say there are plenty of other people who also get it and understand. 

Jennette McCurdy's acting career wasn't something I was aware of; I was long grown up and not watching Nickelodeon when she was on iCarly. To think of her years on that show, and how miserable she was, is heartbreaking. This kid went through some stuff.

Jennette's mother decided when Jennette was six years old that she should become an actress. Mostly because that's what her mom always wanted to be. Jennette wanted to make her mom happy, because she mostly wasn't-so she said "sure". Dragging Jennette around to auditions, being a pushy stage mom, using her past breast cancer diagnosis to illicit sympathy and open doors eventually got Jennette a starring role on what was to become a very popular kid's show: iCarly. 

What people may not have known was Jennette's home life was a disaster. Her mother constantly worked to keep her children (Jennette has three older brothers) dependent on her and always cried that she didn't want them to grow up. Jennette's dismay at puberty had her mom sharing her "calorie restriction" methods on an eleven year old who developed full blown anorexia, followed by years of bulimia and a dysfunctional relationship with food. This woman was the worst mother. So awful. What's sad is Jennette believed everything her mom said, and worked so hard to not disappoint her mom. This kid was completely lost, naive, and had no chance to figure out who she was, as long as her mother was in control. 

Jennette's mother died from cancer when Jennette was 21. She's free, you think. But no, years of terrible harm to herself required extensive therapy, and a lot of ups and downs. It speaks to Jennette's incredible strength that she's come out whole on the other side. Not only as a child of abuse, but a child actor in a terrible industry that isn't kind at all. 

Jennette's writing is spot on--she's got talent, and I hope she continues to thrive. This was a powerful memoir and I'm so glad I read it, even when it became uncomfortable. 

Rating: 5/6 for a moving, powerful memoir about a young woman's traumatic childhood and her struggle to find her voice. If you have a chance to watch one of her interviews about this book, please watch! 

Available in hardcover, ebook and audio. 

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