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

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

“The birthday wish is the most power I have in my life right now. It’s my best chance at control. “

I’m Glad My Mom Died opens with Jennette McCurdy in the ICU, visiting her mother, who is dying and in a coma. First, her brothers, Marcus, Dustin, and Scott, attempt to shock her awake. When that doesn’t work, everyone leaves the room, leaving McCurdy alone with her mother. Finally alone, McCurdy sits next to her mother’s bed, smiles, and leans close, confident that her news will be the one to wake her mother. McCurdy holds out her golden goose and tells her mother, “Mommy. I am…so skinny right now. I’m finally down to eighty-nine pounds.”

I’m Glad My Mother Died, Jennette McCurdy’s highly anticipated memoir delves into her complicated relationship with acting and her mother. McCurdy shot into stardom due to the hit show ICarly, where she plays Carly’s best friend, Sam Puckett. But, before ICarly, she tells the reader of her childhood. Growing up, McCurdy watched her parents fight, and struggle with relationships and financial issues. We see how she didn’t have a close relationship with her dad. However, McCurdy explains that she and her mother were so close and connected, almost intertwined. Her mother was the one who wished to be an actress and ultimately pushed her dream onto McCurdy. She shuffled McCurdy from acting classes, dance classes, and auditions. With this plan, McCurdy managed to book roles as extras and eventually ICarly. As she started to hit puberty, her mother introduced her to caloric restrictions, and together, they maintained food journals, did weight checks, and kept each other in check.  Her mother taught her that she must remain beautiful, but if she didn’t keep up with her appearances – she would never make it in the real world. At one point, McCurdy tells her mother that she hates acting and wants to quit. Hearing this, her mother immediately burst into tears and refused her wish. So, McCurdy kept acting and living her mother’s dream. And as McCurdy said, “My life purpose has always been to make Mom happy, to be who she wants me to be. So without Mom, who am I supposed to be now?”

Drama and rumors have circulated around former Nickelodeon producer, Dan Schneider. Workers have come out about his predatory behavior and McCurdy has made remarks in the past regarding the subject. McCurdy speaks on the mistreatment and abuse she endured while working at Nickelodeon. She mentions a time when she was forced to put on a bikini and how the experience made her feel sexualized and exploited. Referring to Schneider as “The Creator,” McCurdy revisits past events that leave the reader with an icky sensation. Describing him as a “mean-spirited, controlling, and terrifying” man who made grown adults cry due to his violent behavior. Specific moments of his abuse that stood out to me were when he pressured McCurdy into drinking alcohol after she refused due to her being underage. She mentions that at one point in their relationship, she was his favorite, which meant he was overwhelmingly generous and “took her under his wing.” He gave her a back and shoulder massage to rid her of knots, but she was deeply uncomfortable. In fear of offending him, she stayed quiet about her discomfort. Later, Schneider was terminated from Nickelodeon, and McCurdy was offered $300k to keep quiet. Rightfully, she expresses her horror at a kid’s network attempting to give her hush money rather than taking the proper steps to punish him for his actions.      

Now, McCurdy is still processing her trauma, recovering from her stint in acting. As well as, the abuse she endured from the people that were supposed to protect and care about her. She speaks about how recovery is difficult but that she is no longer turning to substances or eating disorders to solve her problems and is finally facing her grief head-on rather than running away. No longer acting, McCurdy is now behind the camera, writing and directing short films such as Kenny and Strong Independent Woman. She has also launched a podcast called Empty Inside, where she talks about other uncomfortable yet crucial topics.

I highly recommend reading I’m Glad My Mother Died. The vulnerability that Jennette McCurdy writes with is equally jawdropping and heartwrenching. The way she struggles with her love for her mother and putting her on a pedestal even though her mother treated her horribly is something I know many relate to. As I read the book, I listened to the audiobook that Jennette McCurdy reads and puts on voices that fit her characters making it an even better read. You can hear how these memories impacted her in her voice and the way she writes.

I'm a junior at Pace University and I'm a lover of all miserable things.