I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy Book Review
Former iCarly star, Jennette McCurdy recently released a confessional memoir entitled I’m Glad My Mom Died. In the book, she tells of the horrific abuse she underwent as a child, specifically how her mother taught her to be anorexic. I’m Glad My Mom Died is very well written; it opens with an attention grabbing scene of McCurdy telling her comatose mother that she reached her goal weight of 80lbs. The story is heartbreaking. McCurdy never aspired to be an actress, it was something that her mother forced upon her. In an interview with ABC News, McCurdy went into great detail about how her mother abused her. She found writing the book to be a very therapeutically productive process. Through sharing her story, McCurdy has been able to let go of trying to logically understand events from her past. McCurdy said in the ABC interview, “I’ve tried to understand [why she abused me]— and that wouldn’t lead me anywhere. I would just spin my wheels trying to understand…”
In the first part of the book, McCurdy paints herself as a victim, an innocent child without any edges. If there was a brief anecdote that showed McCurdy misbehaving as a child— her mother’s hyper-controlling behavior would have been more believable. This wouldn’t paint McCurdy as any less of a victim, rather, it would display a realistic depiction of what sorts of things provoked her mother’s behavior. I found many of the stories hard to believe as the book went on. The key to writing a believable personal narrative is to prevent yourself with a bit of nuance; nobody is perfect.
Over the summer, I took a writing workshop with the Texas Writers’ League and learned all about memoirs. A memoir is a collection of selectively chosen events from the past. It isn’t an autobiography— the story doesn’t have to be in chronological order or include every part of your life. When writing a memoir, the author takes a flashlight to their past and constructs a narrative arc out of memories from the past. The reason it’s called a “memoir” is because it’s written according to the author’s memory– it isn’t a factual account of a person’s life. This leaves memoirists like McCurdy with wiggle room when discussing events that include other people. Memoirs, like all fiction stories, always tie back to a central theme. They leave readers with an overall takeaway. I’m Glad My Mom Died leaves readers with a realistic view of trauma and what it takes to overcome it. Later in the memoir, McCurdy opens up about her flaws. She talks about her alcoholism and interpersonal struggles as a young adult. I found this to be relatable; it really rounded out her character. The powerful thing about McCurdy’s story is that it isn’t about “overcoming” trauma– it’s about how to address the side effects of it. She presents recovering from her eating disorder in a very raw way, not sparing any details about her bumpy road towards (what can arbitrarily be called) “recovery.” McCurdy inspires readers to set healthy boundaries and cope in a healthy way while sharing a page turning story. I really enjoyed listening to the Audiobook, which is read by the author herself. I highly suggest this book!