Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Review - I'm Glad My Mom Died [AUDIO]

I'm Glad My Mom Died

by Jennette McCurdy
Date: 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Reading level: A
Book type: memoir
Length: 6 hours 26 minutes
Format: audio book [unabridged]
Source: library

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life.

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.

Told with refreshing candor and dark humor, I’m Glad My Mom Died is an inspiring story of resilience, independence, and the joy of shampooing your own hair.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I heard a lot about this book last year. With a title like that, how could a reader not be intrigued?

This is a rather harrowing memoir of Hollywood, abuse, illness, family dysfunction, and, yes, love. The provocative title seems to have turned a lot of people off. After listening to this audiobook, though, I can understand why it was chosen. Emotions are complicated. Families are complicated. When there is such emotional chaos in a family, it's understandable that there might be a certain amount of relief when the source of much of that chaos is removed from the picture.

Jennette's mom put her through a lot. The woman was not well, physically or mentally. She was a hoarder. She had extremely narcissistic behaviours. She lived vicariously through her daughter, seeming to see Jennette as little more than an extension of herself. The harrowing depictions of abuse (that Jennette didn't even realize was abuse until years later) are hard to listen to. Coming out with the raw details must have been incredibly difficult, and I applaud Jennette for being courageous enough to do so.

This is an important book, especially for people who may have similar relationships with family members. Ignoring the abuse doesn't help. Keeping secrets doesn't help. All those things serve to do is push the problem further into the future... where it will have to be dealt with at some point, especially if you want to have any semblance of a healthy, normal life.

I just want to add that I'm not the biggest fan of audiobooks in general. But, in this case, I would recommend listening to this book rather than reading it. Jennette does a great job with the narration. Her dry humour comes through when it's appropriate, and yet there are other times when you can hear the genuine heartbreak in her voice. This is her story, after all... and it's wonderful to get to hear her tell it to us.

Overall, this is a really strong memoir. I've never seen iCarly, and I didn't even know who Jennette was before this book came on the scene. But I found this to be a fascinating memoir, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Performance: 4/5
Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4 out of 5

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