Title: I’m Glad My Mom Died
Author: Jennette McCurdy
Number of Pages: 304
Everyone seems to be talking about this and I can see why. It’s hard to put down and has the feeling of a good novel, pulling you into the author’s experiences. I’ve never seen iCarly or Sam & Cat, or Between so I have no familiarity with McCurdy’s work, but I found that that didn’t turn out to be too much of a problem. The title is a bit shocking but it’s a sentiment you progressively begin to understand as you read about the abuse the author went through.
As you might imagine, the book focuses on the toxic relationship between the author and her mom and boy is it crazy! Jennette’s mother literally forced her into show biz and controlled her life. She abused her dad, having violent meltdowns and pulling a knife on him at one point. She bathed Jennette (and her son Scott) until they were sixteen and wiped Jennette’s butt when she was eight.
Jennette suffered from OCD as a child (possibly exacerbated by her traumatic experiences?) and became anorexic and bulimic. Her mom encouraged the anorexia and helped her ‘count calories’ to postpone puberty. Jennette hated acting and it was her always mom’s dream, not hers. It’s sad how parents try to live through their children. It was also harrowing how Jennette was duped by her family situation into thinking the way she grew up was ‘normal.’
It took her years of therapy to realize that, in fact, there was nothing normal about it. The book certainly has a little bit of a voyeuristic quality (like most memoirs about different forms of trauma and child abuse, it always makes the vast majority of people feel better about the childhood experiences) but it’s also well-written, with a mordant sense of humor and a strong examination of McCurdy’s own faults and how her issues affected her relationships as an adult.
The chapters are also nice and short and keep you turning the pages, along with the fascinating subject matter. I did feel the book tended to drag a bit in the middle when it went through the revolving door of Jennette starving herself/purging/binge-drinking and struggling with her mental health. I understand why there was so much focus put on this aspect of the author’s life and how it showed how difficult recovery is for people, even if they want to get better.
These parts just dragged a little bit and I wished that portion of the book had been a little shorter. It grew a little bit tiresome, and some of the words and phrases she used felt repetitive too. This might have been an intentional choice to show the cyclical nature of addiction, with Jennette going through the same thoughts and feelings over and over again.
Nevertheless, I preferred the first half to the second half and found myself starting to phase out at times. Overall, though, I did enjoy this book and I thought it managed to live up to the hype. I hardly ever read bestselling books when they’re at the height of their popularity and I’m glad I decided to pick this one up from a Wal-Mart instead of waiting God-knows-how-long to get it from the local library.