It’s been a recurring desire of mine to get back into reading books and I just never find myself doing so. Mostly from a lack of trying. But when Jennette McCurdy announced she was releasing a memoir of her life so far, I was immediately interested.
I first heard of her when I was a wee lad watching iCarly on Nickelodeon every day before and after school. It wasn’t my favourite Nick show. I liked Spongebob, Fairly Odd Parents and Drake and Josh more. But iCarly was still good. And Jennette’s character, the rebellious Sam Puckett, was my favourite character. But I was never a big celebrity culture type of person. Following celebrities for any reason other than to check out what movies/albums/books they’ve got coming up, and instead being invested in their personal lives has always struck me as a form of stalking that society is apparently just okay with. Like being interested in a famous person’s career – if they’re an entertainer – strikes me as normal, but all the photo snapping for little stories to catch them with their guards down always gives me the ick. So years go by and I don’t think or utter the words iCarly, Sam Puckett or even know Jennette McCurdy’s real name until she pops up on my Spotify. Not for music, but for the self-help podcast she hosts called Empty Inside.
I really enjoyed the show. I was kind of going through some stuff when I found it (hence why I was being suggested a self-help podcast by Spotify’s algorithm) and although none of what I was going through aligned with anything Jennette or her many guests discussed, I just found it interesting and enjoyable how she was able to so easily level with her guests in such a sincere way and always get some heartfelt stories and supportive messages from them. It felt so natural.
I bring this up because a lot of what she talks about in the book, I’m Glad My Mom Died, was first discussed here and there, out of order on Empty Inside. While reading the book I’d sometimes think back to hearing some of it on the show, and think about how the story had been told differently due to the contexts, the mediums and what details had been added. I suppose a lot of why I enjoyed the book came from the fact I’d listened to the podcast.
But don’t misunderstand me; you don’t need to be invested in or know anything about Empty Inside to get the fullest experience out of reading I’m Glad My Mom died. Speaking of which, why is Jennette McCurdy glad her mom died? Well that’s the question of the day.
The book details her complex relationship with her abusive mother and the unfortunate spiral it sends her down with her acting career, and various health issues. And I think what makes her story so interesting to read and truly impactful, more than any other medium or delivering this same story could ever convey, is how effortlessly Jennette communicates how normal she genuinely believed her relationship to her mother was for much of her early childhood. There’s an emotional rawness that hits the nail on the head that is a little hard to convey. I guess I could summarise it as so:
It’s impossible to make good art without the willingness of making yourself vulnerable in front of your audience. And the way Jennette writes is as though we readers are trusted friends of hers who she’s decided to let in on her deepest darkest secrets. Resultingly it’s not only so much sadder and tragic when it needs to be, or happier and joyful when it also decides to be, but also feels like a privilege to read. And how can it not be, when someone reveals to you the most intimate truths, weakest moments and highest highs from the most formative years of their life? That’s what it’s like to read I’m Glad My Mom Died, and is why I couldn’t put it down.
I finished the book in under two days after not reading a book to completion for over a year, so I guess Jennette also gets bonus points for bringing out the once-thought-receded book worm in me.
But if you’re someone who goes into this wanting all the juicy iCarly, Nickelodeon gossip, given how much drama nowdays surrounds it and it’s producers, that’s not what this is. There are indeed some shocking revelations about the studio, and about her experience on the shows she starred in there, but the book isn’t titled I’m Glad iCarly Ended, is it? Hint’s in the title as to what you should go in expecting. And if you’re willing to hear what Jennette has to share, however dark it may be in sometimes surprisingly light and comedic ways, then you’ll definetly be glad you spent your time on this.
So yeah, I would recommend I’m Glad My Mom Died.