“I’m Glad My Mom Died” Uncovers Child Star Jennette McCurdy’s Traumatic Upbringing

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Simon and Schuster

Jennette McCurdy uses dark humor to tell the story of her relationship with her narcissic mother

Haley Hendricks

Jennette McCurdy is an early 2000s child star who had the perfect life according to the tabloids. McCurdy and her mother Debra, could be seen at many red carpet events holding one another and smiling brightly for the paparazzi; flaunting off their “perfect” mother-daughter relationship.

 McCurdy, known for playing Sam Puckett in the Nickelodeon show “iCarly” and its spinoff “Sam & Cat,” is now back in the public eye after retiring from acting a few years ago. She’s an actor turned author following the release of her best-seller, published on August 9, 2022.

McCurdy titled her new memoir, “I’m Glad My Mom Died.” She poses on the cover with a smile while holding her mother’s pink urn with confetti streaming out of it, like a celebration of her mom’s untimely death.

The memoir is about McCurdy’s career as child actress and her relationship with her abusive mother, who died in 2013 after losing her battle with breast cancer. Throughout her memoir McCurdy highlights events from her childhood. She talks about her home life, growing up with her siblings, her parents’ relationship, and her introduction to acting.

“I’m Glad My Mom Died” sold out within 24 hours of going on sale. That same month, it became a New York Times Best Seller for non-fiction, selling over 200,000 copies across all formats in the first week of its release. 

The memoir begins with a young Jennette starting her acting career and struggling to make it. McCurdy’s mother was very involved with the start of Jennette’s career. McCurdy had little time to balance her work life and social life. She spent hours auditioning and taking acting classes, before catching up on homework when she got home – all while being the young age of six. It was shocking how she was able to put in all these hours without someone with authority questioning it.  

In the book, readers find out McCurdy’s acting career was all a result of her mother’s decisions. McCurdy’s mother claimed that she was giving her daughter “the life she never had.” This part of the book did not sit right with me, especially since McCurdy was against the idea from the get go.

It was obvious from the start that McCurdy’s mom had issues. She was a deranged hoarder who liked to control every aspect of her child’s life and career, a career that she never even wanted. 

At one point in the memoir, McCurdy told her mother that she did not want to act anymore, and how it made her uncomfortable. She hated having to go to auditions and experience the anxiety that went with them. It didn’t help that she was struggling with an eating disorder at the time either. Her mother proceeded to have a breakdown and cry about how this was their chance. This was all a façade to manipulate McCurdy, being that she immediately stopped crying once her daughter changed her mind.

It disturbed me how her grandparents and father never helped Jennette. They were all frequently present in her life, and they could have done something, but instead they just watched this abuse pan out. 

“I’m Glad My Mom Died” also highlights moments on the set of “iCarly” and “Sam & Cat.” It was interesting to hear about what goes on behind the scenes, and how McCurdy put on a happy exterior for her fans. 

In the memoir, McCurdy talks about her close relationship with her co-star Miranda Cosgrove, and her not so close one with Ariana Grande. McCurdy was jealous of the privilege that Ariana had on set. Grande was able to call out and take up other job offers, while McCurdy didn’t have these privileges. 

After reading the book, I wondered if Grande had anything to do with McCurdy not getting her promised directing role in the “Sam & Cat,” since it was said that someone very important on set would quit if she did.

This memoir was absorbing to read: I didn’t want to put it down. It was sad, yet funny in many aspects. 

I’d recommend this book to someone who wants to get an inside look on the life of a child actor. “I’m Glad My Mom Died” is a depressing yet amusing read. Jennette displays her childhood in an honest way, with a humorous twist to show how she’s grown from all of her experiences. Without this memoir, I couldn’t imagine what she went through behind the scenes.