Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.
In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail—just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true. Cast in a new Nickelodeon series called iCarly, she is thrust into fame. Though Mom is ecstatic, emailing fan club moderators and getting on a first-name basis with the paparazzi (“Hi Gale!”), Jennette is riddled with anxiety, shame, and self-loathing, which manifest into eating disorders, addiction, and a series of unhealthy relationships. These issues only get worse when, soon after taking the lead in the iCarly spinoff Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, her mother dies of cancer. Finally, after discovering therapy and quitting acting, Jennette embarks on recovery and decides for the first time in her life what she really wants.
Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair.
I don’t know a lot about Jennette’s life in the public eye – I’m not really young enough to have watched her in iCarly, but I’ve heard a LOT about this book and I want to read more non-fiction, so was looking forward to giving this a go. This book definitely gives you a new respect for Jennette, and child actors like her who are under an enormous amount of pressure not only to please directors and agents but also their own parents.
I’m Glad My Mom Died is hard reading at times. I wanted to scream at her mum, and also at the other people around Jennette who didn’t realise what she was going through whilst she was growing up, or how her mother was abusing her. If you have any experience of eating disorders I’d say probably stay away from this book, but if not then I think it’s an interesting read.
I really enjoyed reading Jennette’s story from childhood to an adult struggling, with so many issues, and seeing the acting industry through the eyes of a child, and the extra pressures that come with that kind of career, even without a mother like Jennette’s or ‘The Creator’, a director at Nickelodeon who really needs to get his comeuppance!
The writing itself isn’t anything to shout about – it’s written engagingly enough as the subject is so intriguing, but I wouldn’t say it’s anything special in terms of the language used, and it’s very American in its choice of words (unsurprisingly)! It is, however, a very easy to read – I raced through it and found it really gripping.
I’m Glad My Mom Died is a fascinating but heartbreaking story and makes me want to add far more autobiographies to my reading list.