Jennette McCurdy sets the record straight in her memoir ‘I’m Glad My Mom Died.’



Jennette McCurdy’s memoir on her experience with TV industry.

The name Jennette McCurdy has been a staple in the lives of children and parents alike since her debut on Nickelodeon’s teen sitcom “iCarly.” 

Acquiring the role of brassy tomboy Sam Puckett in 2007, McCurdy quickly rose to fame alongside her co-stars Miranda Cosgrove and Nathan Kress. Despite being only 15 when the comedy’s first season aired, McCurdy appeared to be the definition of a child star, captivating millions of viewers on screen while avoiding scandals when the cameras stopped rolling.

Yet, McCurdy sets the record straight in her debut book release titled “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” released on Aug. 9. Divided into two sections, the first half her memoir centered on the years before her mom, Debra McCurdy, died due to the recurrence of her stage four breast cancer and the tumultuous years that followed her death. 

Detailing the years of physical, mental and sexual abuse at the hands of her mother, McCurdy remains unapologetic and fearless when recounting the horrors of unwillingly stepping into the spotlight at the age of 6-years-old.

Despite feeling hesitancy at the idea of acting, a career her mother had wanted for herself, McCurdy never had a chance to free herself from her mother’s suffocating shadow.

For the first 21 years of her life, McCurdy recounts the rigid control her mother wielded over her. From managing her career to teaching her how to count calories at age 11 and even showering with her until the age of 17 under the guise of McCurdy not being able to properly wash her hair, liberation from her mother appeared to be hopeless.

However, McCurdy highlights the complex manner of her mother’s abuse. 

“My whole life, my entire existence has been oriented to the narrative that Mom wants what’s best for me, Mom does what’s best for me, Mom knows what’s best for me,” McCurdy writes. “Even in the past, when resentments started to creep in or wedges started to come between us, I have checked those resentments and wedges, I have curbed them so that I can move forward with this narrative intact, this narrative that feels essential to my survival.”

While McCurdy’s youth may have been defined by her struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia and anxiety due to the constant recognition by fans and paparazzi, she always remained grounded in the reality of her stardom. 

It’s no secret that childhood actors often fade away once they enter adulthood, with only two percent of actors making a living from the profession.

One surprising aspect from McCurdy’s memoir arose when the former actor recounted her time working alongside co-star Ariana Grande on their series “Sam and Cat.” Despite both earning their fame from Nickelodeon, Grande received unique treatment on set, such as being allowed to place her music career first while McCurdy was forced to set aside her future in order to film the show’s episodes.

McCurdy remains candid when recalling the exploitation at the hands of “iCarly” producer Dan Schneider, who she nicknames ‘the Creator.’ Over the course of her time staring in the teenage sitcom, Schneider exhibited inappropriate behavior such as forcing cast members, such as McCurdy, into underage drinking while also making sexual gestures and innuendos.

Unsurprisingly, McCurdy’s mother refused to intervene, telling her daughter that everyone wants what she has and forcing her daughter deeper into Nickelodeon’s grasp.

Yet, it wasn’t until after her mother died in 2010 that McCurdy finds herself teetering on the edge of rock bottom. The realization of her mother’s abuse is one McCurdy fought tooth and nail as her bulimia and drinking habits reached near deadly levels. When her first therapist mentioned the possibility that her mother was abusive, McCurdy refused to return. 

Through her years of grieving, McCurdy experiences a multitude of emotions toward her mother, from resentment and hatred to love and anguish; she illustrates that even the losses we crave still hold a lifetime of feelings.

Fortunately, McCurdy refuses to let her past define a life that never truly felt like her own. 

In 2017, McCurdy officially resigned from the world of acting and took her future into her own hands, enrolling in eating disorder treatment and rekindling relationships with the ones who genuinely care about her well-being more than her success. 

Since “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” was released, it has received over 32,000 ratings, accumulating to a score of 4.7 out of 5 on popular cataloging website Goodreads. The memoir has also collected praise from The New York Times and The Atlantic, deeming the book a triumph in its genre. 

“I’m Glad My Mom Died” presents a powerful account of how a parent’s authority can unravel childhood innocence and leave scars that take decades to fully heal. 

“I want my life to be in my hands. Not an eating disorder or a casting director’s or an agent’s or my mom’s. Mine,” McCurdy writes. 

Not only has McCurdy mastered the genre of heartbreak and humor, but she also proves that the past cannot be allowed to define the future. “I’m Glad My Mom Died” offers a study in unapologetic courage, and the validity of the journey towards healing, even when it feels like only an uphill battle.

Connect with Lilly Keller: @lillyraek | [email protected]