I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy – Review

In this provocatively titled memoir, former iCarly star Jennette McCurdy details an honest account about her entire life as a child actress and how her mom dictated that journey.

iCarly was one of my favorite television shows as a teen, and I think that anyone who enjoyed watching it growing up can confirm that it was hilarious and entertaining. The role that Jennette McCurdy played—Sam Puckett—was particularly portrayed as witty, fearless and tough, but Jennette herself lived a very different life behind the scenes.

[Content warning: this memoir discusses physical and emotional abuse, eating disorders, and sexual assault.]

I think it comes as no surprise to anyone nowadays to hear about how exploitative the entertainment industry is. Yet, it was shocking to read what Jennette has gone through, especially to know that her mother Debra was the one who propelled her into the spotlight. This led to an array of health issues, including eating disorders. Becoming a breadwinner for her family, Jennette was forced to keep up with the pressures of fame and being an exemplary star all the time—not just because she had no choice, but also due to her desire to make her mother proud. This follows her into adulthood, where her identity continues revolving around her mother’s acceptance:

I’m in the ICU with my dying mother and the thing that I’m sure will get her to wake up is the fact that in the days since Mom’s been hospitalized, my fear and sadness have morphed into the perfect anorexia-motivation cocktail, and, finally, I have achieved my Mom’s current goal weight for me. Eighty-nine pounds.

The majority of children would do anything to appease their parents and it’s only natural to want their approval. But in Jennette’s case, attempting to achieve this meant molding herself into someone else completely, and staying in the coccoon that shelters her away from building other parts of who she is. To acknowledge her mother’s abuse meant discarding that coccoon and reframing her narrative completely; after all:

Without Mom, who [is she] supposed to be now?

The pressure and abuse that Jennette faced also came from Nickelodeon itself, especially from a producer who is well known for his horrible treatment of children actors, who she referred to as “The Creator.” Similar to her mother, The Creator would often made her feel “on edge, desperate to please, terrified of stepping out of line.” Her entire life was constantly dictated by manipulative adults who merely try to milk as much money out of her as they can, and it doesn’t help that her Sam Puckett role was so ingrained in people’s minds that she seemed tethered to her character, discouraging her from being able to evolve:

I’m cemented in people’s minds as the person I was as a kid.

It’s normal for young adults to explore different facets of life and make mistakes, but Jennette was expected to stay in a box disguised as an ethereal mansion. She was infantilized, yet treated like an adult at the same time during her career as a child actress.  It became hard for her to acknowledge how much she internalized the harmful things her mother actively endorsed, even after her passing. I am glad that the ending of the memoir shows Jennette’s healing and journey towards a healthy path of life that is only paved by herself.

The striking title, which might sound snarky to many, is a sincere expression of how Jennette manages to put herself first and abandoned the idea of putting Debra on a pedestal. Despite the morbid events in the book, Jennette also incorporates a sense of cheekiness and humor, a spirit that she can’t surpress and serves as a coping mechanism. It was interesting to read her various perspectives written in the present tense from her childhood up to her adulthood, and you can really sense her change of heart as she gradually started recognizing the issues she was facing.

A very direct and quick read, I think this would be particularly enlightening for people like me who are former Nickelodeon enthusiasts. But more importantly, this book is for anyone who has (had) to grapple with the fact that their so-called loved ones were full of flaws and is seeking peace in acknowledging that.

6 thoughts on “I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy – Review

  1. I’ve been so curious about the book since I saw it promoted on Instagram because I too was watching all those videos surrounding a certain Nickelodeon pervert. Suffering this much over the years, the book seems to be an uplifting work for the people who had to grow up in a toxic environment. Loved your review! 👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s nice to read another think-piece of this great title. What a tumultuous upbringing the author had, and it’s really relieving to see the impact the story has to many people out there.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s