Friday 23 September 2022

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy | Book Review

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I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Publication date: 15th September 2022

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.

"I'm allowed to hate someone else's dream, even if it's my reality."

Oh my goodness, what a book. I love a memoir but I love them even more when I listen to them in audio format and they are read by the author. I would go as far as to say that this is one of my top reads of the year. I'm Glad My Mom Died is raw, honest, heartbreaking, candid and funny.

I consume a lot of pop culture so although I was aware of Jennette McCurdy, when iCarly and Sam & Cat were on TV, I was past the age of their target audience. I was initially drawn to this book ahead of its release due to its frankly stunning title. I was intrigued, I was curious. I didn't know what to expect. 

Jennette writes brilliantly about her relationship with her mother Debra from the age of six, up to her death when Jennette was 21 years old. She then recalls her life following her mother's death. 

Debra got Jennette into acting as a child but the story is very deep. Jennette quite clearly loved her mother and believed that their relationship was completely normal but only realised after her death that this was not the case. I was completely enthralled and my heart felt like it was breaking as Jennette told the story of attending therapy and unpacking what her childhood was really like. 

She writes honestly about her mother's abuse (something that she now realises that it was), Hollywood, her time at Nickelodeon, her relationships (both romantic and with her family) and her eating disorders. Jennette is effortlessly funny so although there are serious topics, it did make me laugh too.

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