[REVIEW] I’m Glad My Mom Died, by Jennette McCurdy

A Kindle displaying the weirdly cheerful cover of I'm Glad My Mom Died stands on front of a black, dead TV screen.

Buy this book here.

(Content warning: child abuse)

I feel like the best thing I can say about this book is that the title is a lie.

While child star Jennette McCurdy describes the emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse her overbearing stage mother perpetrated in painstakingly gory detail here, you never really get a sense that she’s glad that her mother is dead of the cancer she blamed for her behavior. But I also never really got the sense that any of the trauma in this book had been healed at all, only examined and trotted out for public display. All of the disturbing situations discussed — how adult Jennette weighed 89 pounds and rode in a booster seat at 14, how she was anorexic and bulimic at her mother’s urging, how she was in a terrible relationship with a man twice her age in her late teens, how her mother insisted on bathing her well into adulthood–these are all disturbing, but they also carry a distinct tinge of “what for?!”.

I don’t want to sound as though I’m criticizing her experiences–I’m not. I feel absolutely terrible about everything McCurdy says she goes through, and as a Child of the Secret myself, I know that healing is a journey, and the trauma of abuse isn’t something that can be wrapped up and explained neatly in a three-act plot with a tidy denouement.

But I’d also never heard of McCurdy before this book. I was an adult when iCarly and Sam and Cat were big on Nickelodeon. I don’t have the same parasocial empathy for her that fans have. In a way, that makes all of the suffering on display here even sadder. Not only was McCurdy abused, but she developed lifelong eating disorders and substance abuse issues that she still struggles with as a result. Her relationships are trainwrecks, her acting career discarded (it turns out, she never really wanted one), and at the end of her memoir, it’s pretty clear her money is beginning to dry up. At the end of a memoir like this, you want to walk away with a sense that something has changed in the life of the victim. The end of this just left me feeling empty–McCurdy is persevering through the pain, but her mother died and left mostly bitterness and nasty secrets behind.

That’s very real, but this was tiring to read and shockingly mean at times. It’s supposed to be funny and I didn’t laugh once. I was just horrified, disgusted, and disturbed. I like dark humor, but this ain’t that. While I’m sure McCurdy will continue to heal, I finished the book feeling bad for her. The one bright spot is that she’s a good writer and this book is put together well, despite her mother’s mean discouragement of her writing aspirations.

All these words and I still have no idea what to say or how to feel about this. Many years of therapy and a source of unconditional love to I’m Glad My Mom Died. Yikes.

(This wasn’t my favorite read of 2022, beautiful people. Fans feel differently, so if you liked iCarly, go ahead and check this one out in the Equal Opportunity Bookshop. Don’t forget, we have an affiliate relationship with Bookshop and any purchases you make through links on this site will result in us earning a commission which we will use to purchase more books! Thanks, and go read something good. )

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