Book Reviews

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

This is a book that I had heard a lot about from various sources. At the time, I had no idea who Jennette McCurdy was. It wasn’t until my granddaughter started watching iCarly that I realized who she was and decided I needed to read this book. For anyone who doesn’t know, Jennette co-starred on that series with Miranda Cosgrove as two teenagers who create their own online “show.” In this day and age of voyeuristic YouTube videos, especially when parents are encouraging children who can’t give their consent to act in them, I felt this book would provide a counterpoint to all of those channels.

When I was growing up, it was Jay North of Dennis the Menace fame who was sounding the alarm over what child actors were subjected to. Now Jennette McCurdy sounds the alarm, although most of her grief seems to have come from her mother, who saw Jennette as an extension of the dreams she once had. The only daughter in a family of boys, Jennette was groomed by her mother to be her “best friend” and was emotionally abused from the start to be afraid of “disappointing” her mother. This meant when her mother suggested acting, Jennette went along with it to make her mother happy, even if it wasn’t what she really wanted.

No one was calling it an eating disorder when her mother introduced her at a young age to “calorie restriction” but it sure was. Jennette became conscious of everything she put into her body, eventually leading to anorexia and bulimia. Her mother bathed her until she was 16 under the guise of making sure she stayed healthy. Jennette had no real privacy in her life from her mother, yet no one on any of the shows she was on ever seemed to pick up on it.

To be fair, Jennette isn’t exactly glad her mom died (from cancer). She was devastated when it happened. However, this allowed her to get into therapy and finally take a good, hard look at what her life had been like until that point. It wasn’t normal, and that’s not even taking into account the acting part. Jennette had no real friends until she and Miranda bonded (they are still great friends). Whenever Jennette tried to assert any independence, her mother would be there laying a guilt trip on her. Even when she got her first apartment, her mother found a way to move in with her. Her mother dying was the only way she could get out of this relationship, and that has allowed her to conquer the demons in her life from a parent who was emotionally abusive.

Jennette learned at a young age not to make waves, and this was how she approached acting. Whatever a director or anyone asked of her, she was up for. However, when she was given her own spin-off from iCarly with Ariana Grande, she was always asked to accommodate Ariana and her schedule while the creators demanded she be available and bypass other thing, such as a concert tour when her singing career took off. Jennette doesn’t name names here, she simply titles the person THE CREATOR when she talks about him and how uncomfortable he made her several times. Yet she allowed it and didn’t speak up because that is what she had been conditioned to by her mother. Finally, she had enough and began asserting herself, which led to the downfall of the show Sam and Cat. Of course, she was blamed for it, rather than the atmosphere that had been created on the set.

Where was her father in all this? Her father dealt with her mother much the same way Jennette did; he stayed silent and went along to keep the peace. It’s only after her mother is gone and they can have an honest conversation that he spills the truth to Jennette. This is sad in so many ways as the family was all under the control of a woman who was obviously mentally ill but no one would stand up to her or do anything about it. The likelihood was also that if he tried to leave her mother, he probably would have lost custody of at least two of the children in the household. Why? You’ll have to read it to find out.

I give Jennette a lot of credit for the courage in penning this memoir. In this day and age of YouTube bloggers who have no problems exploiting their children for fame and fortune, it’s a cautionary tale of what we’ll be reading from those children in 10-20 years. I think this was also therapeutic for Jennette to get her side of the story out there, particularly on the subject of Sam and Cat. Her iCarly co-stars have stood behind her on this, even with her declining to be a part of the show’s new incarnation. Sometimes when you put pen to paper and look at how much you have endured, it can be uplifting, even though you don’t know afterwards how you survived.

3 replies »

    • I think your review was the first to bring it to my attention, but I didn’t know who she was at the time so I bypassed it in favor of other books. That is, until my granddaughter started watching iCarly and it clicked. It clicked even more after I saw videos on YouTube where these families are recording every moment of their lives for the $$$. It’ll be interesting to see how many of those kids write books later and we find out how much they went along with to make their parents happy, like Jennette did.