Memoir - Nonfiction

Caitlin’s Memoir Musings

A memoir titled I’m Glad My Mom Died immediately grabbed my attention as I scanned the books sitting on the hold shelf; each one waiting for their next temporary owner.  I sometimes cover shifts in the Circulation department and seeing the different books that travel in and out of the building is one of my favorite parts of working in this area of the library.  Honestly, there’s not a single day that I come to work and don’t mentally add another book to my “must read list.” But Jennette McCurdy’s autobiography stood out from the crowd with its cheery yellow and pink cover, showcasing a young, vaguely familiar-looking woman, holding up a bright pink urn with shredded paper spilling out.  The title was low-key shocking and the cover made me even more intrigued.  I was eager to understand the meaning behind McCurdy’s title and promptly added myself to the hold list. 

After a quick google search (and reading the inside cover), I realized where I recognized the author from.  Jennette McCurdy came to child star fame on the Disney channel’s preteen sitcom, Sam & Cat, and later on the network’s show, iCarly.  As I began reading her memoir, I realized the dream of becoming a television star was not Jennette’s but instead belonged to her mother.  In McCurdy’s painful yet humorous autobiography, the author shares the lengths she went to in order to please her overbearing and emotionally abusive mother and to ultimately achieve her mother’s unfulfilled dream of becoming an actor. 

Contrary to the emotionally cold title of the book, it is obvious throughout McCurdy’s memoir that she loved her mother dearly and tried desperately to ensure her mom’s happiness at the cost of her own.  The author’s voice recounts disturbing experiences with the innocence of a child who believed their parent acted only out of love and concern for their daughter.  As a reader, it is apparent that McCurdy grew up under the thumb of a narcissistic mother who was eager to share her unhealthy and damaging habits in the name of “stardom”.  McCurdy shares how her mother introduced her daughter to calorie restriction at an early age, put her through painful beauty routines, and even bathed her well into her teen years.  What I found remarkable though is how the author is able to share her experiences and expose her mother for the harm she caused without an accusatory tone.  Instead, many of the stories told are shared with a matter-of-fact quality and a hint of sadness.  At other times, I found myself laughing at the author’s comical take on depressing matters.  Jennette McCurdy’s memoir acts as a love letter of acceptance and accountability from her mother, even though it appears the former actor never received either before her mom died of cancer.  She unfolds her story with honesty, humor, and clarity from the healing side of trauma without damning her mother in the process.  If you are someone who tries to make others laugh when you feel like crying, this memoir may be just the one for you, as McCurdy seamlessly ties together sarcasm and sadness in her New York Times #1 bestseller, I’m Glad My Mom Died.