I’m Glad My Mom Died: A Review of the Unflinching Jennette McCurdy Memoir

Audrey Hirschberger
August 13, 2023 | 6 mins

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When I started reading the Jennette McCurdy memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, one thing became instantly clear: She’s even better at writing than she is at acting. 

Jennette McCurdy’s memoir lays bare the burdens of child stardom and the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse she underwent at the hands of her “momager” Debra.

The Jennette McCurdy book is a prime example of how to write a memoir.

Memoirs aren’t easy to write, and they can be incredibly thankless work. You have to dig through past traumas, air your dirty laundry, and deal with backlash from friends and family members who may not be portrayed in the best light.

Sometimes, it’s important to ask for permission before revealing the darker nature of your loved ones.

And sometimes, it's better to just wait until they’re dead.

The latter is most certainly what the Jennette McCurdy memoir called for. 

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Shoved Into the Limelight 

Jennette McCurdy and her three older brothers were raised by Mormon parents, Debra and Mark, in the quiet suburb of Garden Grove, California. She was just six years old when her mother pressured her to begin acting, telling her “I want to give you the life I deserved.”

The Jennette McCurdy memoir makes it obvious early on that Jennette was never interested in acting. But she wanted so badly to please her mother – whose volatile and non-sensical mood swings kept Jennette constantly questioning herself.

Eventually, McCurdy’s talent landed her the role of brash and quirky Sam Puckett on the Nickelodeon sitcom iCarly. Sam was lovingly known for her addiction to fried chicken and was constantly eating on screen. 

McCurdy’s own relationship with food couldn’t have been more different. 

Anorexic From the Age of 11 

In the opening scene of the Jennette McCurdy memoir, adult McCurdy hovers over her comatose mother in the hospital. She and her brothers take turns whispering the words that they believe will bring Debra back from the edge. 

McCurdy racks her brain for the words that would mean the very most to her mother – the words that would give her the will to live. 

The words she chooses? 

“I’m down to 89 pounds.”

Debra McCurdy taught Jennette from a very young age that calorie restriction was the key to her heart. Jennette panicked when she began to grow breasts – understanding that growing up (and the autonomy that comes with it) would most definitely be against her mother’s wishes. 

Attempting to stay “mommy’s little girl” forever, Jennette asks her mother for the secret to staying small. 

It is here that the Jennette McCurdy memoir introduces us to Jennette’s regimen of weekly weigh-ins, calorie-counting, and barely-there meals. It is also here that Jennette’s life-long battle with anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating begins. 

Crying on Command

The glaring dysfunction in McCurdy’s home life ultimately led to her on-screen success. Thanks to her mother’s abuse and her father’s neglect, McCurdy finds she has a whole well of emotions just waiting to be accessed. 

Her body’s reaction to abuse simply made her an even bigger commodity. Everyone wants the girl who can cry on command. 

After landing her role in iCarly, McCurdy is placed under the care of Dan Schneider, the writer and producer of many hit shows (from All That, to Drake & Josh, to The Amanda Show)

Unfortunately, Dan Schneider is famed for more than just his Nickelodeon hits. In 2018, Nickelodeon parted ways with Schneider after allegations of verbal and sexual abuse. 

While Schneider denies all allegations, McCurdy plainly recounts feeling sexualized and scared of him. He pressured her to wear sexy outfits, made her drink spiked coffee, and gave her back massages. 

“I want to say something, to tell him to stop, but I’m so scared of offending him,” she writes.

The Jennette McCurdy memoir handles far more than just McCurdy’s relationship with her mother, but it tackles these big issues with the utmost tact. 

A Candid Look at Childhood Horrors 

Many memoirs cover the issue of childhood trauma – and they do it exceedingly well (looking at you What My Bones Know). But the Jennette McCurdy memoir approaches it in an entirely new way. 

I’ve never seen an author address trauma with such grace, candor, and wit. McCurdy finds an effortless emotional balance by approaching horrifying events with dark humor – but never in a way that feels insensitive.

If anything, the Jennette McCurdy memoir is exceedingly sensitive and realistic when discussing sexual abuse, eating disorders, alcoholism, and the emotional fallout of the deeply dysfunctional child star system. 

Through it all, McCurdy gives us two distinct viewpoints. She shows compassion for her flawed and unstable mother through the lens of her childhood self, and boldly points a finger at her mother’s inexcusable behaviors as an adult. 

The wisdom of years (and a whole lot of therapy), has allowed McCurdy to overcome many obstacles and find humor in her darkest moments. She is currently in treatment for her eating disorders, has a podcast, and is successful in both writing and directing short films. 

She is finally taking back control of her life. 

My Takeaway From the Jennette McCurdy Memoir

To be perfectly honest, the Jennette McCurdy memoir wasn’t a five-star read for me. In fact, I can’t even say that I’m glad I read the book. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the brutally honest portrayal of abuse that I found within the pages. 

When I finally closed my Jennette McCurdy book, it was with a heavy heart and a mind far too full of thoughts. 

Was it well written? Absolutely.

Will it be relatable for victims of child abuse and people with eating disorders? Most certainly. 

Did it point a giant spotlight on the faults and foibles of Hollywood? Thank goodness, yes. 

This book is perfect for the right person. (All the glowing reviews don’t lie.) And I think it’s exactly what a memoir should be – so authors looking for inspiration on how to start a memoir, take note. 

But don’t expect a comedy. While it is described as “darkly comedic”, and McCurdy does a great job finding light in her situation, this is a tale of abuse at its core.

So that being said, I don’t think I could recommend this book to all people

If you're a fan of compelling life stories and are on the lookout for the best celebrity memoirs that you won’t be able to put down, this one deserves a spot on your reading list.

If you don’t mind a few trigger warnings, and are ready to dig deep into McCurdy’s gritty past, then buckle yourself in. 

What I can say with certainty?: I’m glad her mom died, too

Did you enjoy this review? Read other book reviews done by the selfpublishing.com team!

Ready to Write Your Own Best-Selling Memoir?

If the Jennette McCurdy memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, has inspired you to write your own, selfpublishing.com has the resources to help you get started. 

Perhaps you are wondering whether you should write an autobiography vs memoir to begin with, or how to choose the underlying themes and life lessons in your story. 

Whether you need help coming up with memoir ideas, or simply need a memoir outline to keep all your ideas in order, you can find all the information you need here.

Dive into our collection of insightful memoir writing prompts that will spark your creativity and guide you through the process of discovering your personal narrative. 

Additionally, the memoir writing do's and don'ts serves as your writing roadmap to ensure your story unfolds with authenticity, impact, and a captivating voice.

At selfpublishing.com, we’ve helped hundreds of authors to complete the books they’ve been itching to write. 

Plus, once you’re done writing that life-changing memoir, we have everything you need for self-publishing it too. 

So what are you waiting for? The world is ready to hear your story.

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