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REVIEW: iCarly actress-turned-writer Jennette McCurdy’s memoir, ‘I’m Glad My Mom Died’

Opinion/Entertainment/Media Review
By Summer Lane

Photo: Deposit, Editorial Use Only

Maybe you’ve seen it in the stores: a yellow and pink book with a smiling, blonde-haired, blue-eyed young woman holding a confetti-stuffed urn with a, “Well, here goes,” expression on her face. The title of the book is “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” and the author is someone most Millennial parents will know well: Jennette McCurdy, the talented and hilarious actress who played Sam in Nickelodeon’s hit show, “iCarly.”

Her memoir has sold more than two million copies, and its shocking title is probably part of why. The very phrase, “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” seems wildly offensive, and of course, it prompts curiosity in readers. Why was this young woman glad that her mother died?

This is a question I wanted to answer, and because I try to stay on top of current events and track the latest books on the market (again, I said, I try!), I decided to download this memoir as an audiobook while on a long flight from one end of the U.S. to the other.

It turned out to be the perfect distraction for combating my somewhat over-the-top fear of long flights, and by the time I had taken three flights, I had finished the book.

I wanted to offer a review on it this week because I think it’s important to address cultural phenomena as they arise in society and to view them through the lens of God’s wisdom rather than the media’s.

The good

The book was easy to read. My experience with the book was through audio, and it was narrated by the author herself, so it felt very immersive and intimate, as if she was telling me her life story over the phone.

First, Jennette is a good writer. Her writing is clean, neat, and action-oriented. She tells the story of how she rose to childhood stardom at the behest of her controlling and abusive mother, who forced her into acting at a very young age. Her mother, who passed away from cancer in 2013, taught a very young Jennette how to utilize “calorie restriction” to delay puberty, showered her daughter until she was 16, and verbally manipulated her daughter into a state of extreme eating disorder (acute anorexia and later, impulsive bulimia), anxiety, and OCD.

In other words, the story is a memoir reflecting on how Jennette never wanted to be an actress. According to her memoir, she pursued acting and became successful because of her mother’s pressure to work in the business. Jennette felt that she had no choice.

I will say this: Jennette’s story is a depiction of something that is likely far too prevalent in Hollywood. It paints a picture of a young child who is used and abused in the show business industry and winds up with severe mental and emotional issues because of it.

It is a warning to any parent who may have thoughts about putting their kids in “the business.” Don’t do it. Hollywood is not a place for children – and Jennette McCurdy, in my opinion, resoundingly proves that in her book, even if that is not what she is trying to do.

The bad

This is not a criticism of the author’s memoir – rather, it’s a content warning for young readers. “I’m Glad My Mom Died” is not written for children. There is swearing, sex, reflections of abuse, extreme accounts of anorexia, alcoholism, and perhaps most graphically of all, bulimia.

Jennette’s struggle with bulimia came after years of intense calorie restriction led her to binge-eat and then purge. Her tale is heart-wrenching. It’s horrific to think that any mother could encourage their child’s eating disorder. And that, of course, is the kind of behavior that ties into the book’s title.

McCurdy shares how she experimented with and explored food, sex, and booze for years before finally finding a semi-cognizant stasis of healing, dipping out of acting, and refusing a $300,000 “hush money” payment from Nickelodeon asking her to keep her lips sealed about her bad experiences onset.

Jennette’s relationship with her mother was overwhelmingly abusive, based on her account in the book. She only had a friendship with her mother when she was paying her mom’s bills, for example. At one point in the book, she tells the story of how her mother launched an obsessive, expletive-filled tirade about Jennette’s love life in emails, texts, and voicemails. One email swore to disown her forever but included a P.S. that asked for money to buy a new refrigerator.

Classic abusive behavior, of course, but it is nevertheless sobering to hear it from the former actress’s own mouth. As you listen or read, you feel deeply for her situation and want her to escape the downward spiral of pain and self-deprecation.

McCurdy has a Mormon background but seems to have severely lost all faith or semblance of spirituality because of confusing experiences with religious standards at church and in her home. At one point, it becomes clear that the “still, small voice” that she thought was the “Holy Ghost” as a child, was actually just a harrowing form of OCD that “told” her to complete compulsive actions.

McCurdy, no doubt, has been through the ringer, and it is refreshing to see her take a step away from acting, save herself from further destruction, and instead focusing on a new passion: writing.

The bottom line

I cannot, as a Christian reviewer, recommend this book to anyone who is a minor, because it deals with explicitly adult situations. As an adult, I enjoyed learning more about the life of someone who acted on a show that I used to watch. McCurdy and I are about the same age (roughly, she’s a little older), and who doesn’t love kicking back with a good memoir on a long flight?

I think the book was actually a sobering look at the dirty underbelly of Hollywood and child acting – and the horrifying results it has. The more I learn about child acting, the less I think it should be legal, because it seems as if kids are simply NOT protected from abuse on set, in their trailers, or anywhere else.

BUT that’s another argument for another day (and I’m not advocating for making child acting illegal – I’m just making an observation).

In conclusion, I enjoyed the book. However, the title (and the ending) is devoid of any true semblance of peace and healing, and I think that is because McCurdy is missing something from her journey to stabilizing her life: Jesus!

Her past experiences with Mormonism and religion obviously soured her to the idea of faith, but I pray that she will hear the true Gospel, accept Jesus as her Savior, and be able to forgive her late mother, because only in true forgiveness can we truly be free of the trauma of yesterday’s pain.


Matthew 6:14-15 

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.








The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team. This specific article was written by Summer Lane, and may not be reproduced, except to quote for reviews or interviews, without the express permission of the author. 




Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 30 books, including the hit Collapse Series and Resurrection Series. She is an experienced journalist and columnist who reports on news within the U.S. and abroad. She is the Associate Editor for Right Side Broadcasting Network. Additionally, she analyzes politics and policies on The Write Revolution.

Summer is also a mom and wife who enjoys rural country living, herding cats, and gardening. She is passionate about writing about women’s issues, parenting, and politics from a theologically-grounded perspective that points readers to the good news of the gospel.

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