• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Former child actress McCurdy's account of her mother's narcissistic, harmful, abusive behavior and how it has shaped the author's life is disturbing, yet McCurdy's tone is wry and appealing in its brutal honesty.

I had her up on a pedestal.... That pedestal kept me stuck, emotionally stunted, living in fear, dependent, in a near constant state of emotional pain and without the tools to even identify that pain, let alone deal with it. My mom didn't deserve her pedestal. She was a narcissist. She refused to admit she had any problems, despite how destructive those problems were to our entire family.

I wasn't familiar with McCurdy when I began listening to her memoir, I'm Glad My Mom Died, although I have a vague recollection of the existence of the Nickelodeon TV shows she was on, iCarly and Sam and Cat.

Jennette became a child actress at 6 in order to please her mother, pushing down her own anxiety and disinclination to be the center of attention--and eventually committing to her mother's idea of "calorie restriction," which started McCurdy on a path of constant struggling with food and eating disorders that lasted decades.

Her mother's volatile emotions; upsetting and controlling actions; pushy manner; mental, emotional, and physical abuse; and disturbing codependence with her young daughter make for an uncomfortable read.

Yet McCurdy is witty, often funny, and candid. She doesn't add drama to the often shocking and horrifying revelations she presents to the reader. She's most often matter-of-fact, because while she now has the benefit of age and increased wisdom, therapy and perspective, and distance from the situation, the various methods of constant abuse and control her mother exerted over her until her death were McCurdy's everyday life; for McCurdy, all of this was an unhappy but normal set of circumstances.

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McCurdy has had a one-woman show "I'm Glad My Mom Died," and she writes and directs films and writes articles that have appeared in various publications. She hosts a podcast called "Empty Inside."