I cannot rightly state why I picked up this book. I am somewhat familiar with the actress Jennette McCurdy, but have not really seen much of her work. As you can imagine, I was not exactly the target demographic for her Nickelodeon work. I did catch her Netflix series Between and while the show was rather generic, she showed genuine talent for acting. Somehow, she has demonstrated even more apt for writing in her debut memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died.
The title is purposely inflammatory obviously but not without merit from the words found in the text. Within the pages, McCurdy recounts her beginnings in the entertainment industry as a child actor and rise to prominence. She also tells of the emotional and physical toils of auditioning, rejection, and navigating the ins and outs of the industry while also growing up and trying to lead a semblance of an actual, normal life. All of this is secondary, and in many ways a byproduct, of the tumultuous relationship McCurdy had with her mother.
Her mother was a recovering cancer patient whose ailment led most of the family dynamics. Along with this illness, McCurdy’s mother also appears to have some mental health issues that compounded her physical illness. Her mother seemed to use these attributes and the pity and sympathy they bring forth in people to manipulate and control Jennette and the family in general. It is interesting to read McCurdy’s work and examination of her live up to this point, particularly how her relationship with her mother, for all the good and ill, informed every single aspect of her life up until, and for some time after, her death.
The book deals with some heavy subject matter including alcoholism, parental abuse and neglect, financial abuse, unethical (if not outright illegal) romantic relationship, toxic work environments, and a few other topics. However, McCurdy’s writing is sharp, funny, engaging, and manages to not delve too deep into said subject matter to be triggering for most audiences. I do not know if she was working from past diaries or journals, but her skill in writing like the events transpired from the perspective of who she was in that time is impressive on its own. Add to that, the wit and prose, and the book is well worth the read. Highly recommended if you are a fan or are interested in a not often promoted perspective of the industry or complicated family dynamics.