In this explosive debut, former iCarly star McCurdy recounts a harrowing childhood directed by her emotionally abusive stage mother. A narcissist and “full-blown hoarder,” McCurdy’s mother, Debra, pushed her daughter into acting at age six in 1999, doling out her scarce affection in tandem with the jobs McCurdy booked (while weaponizing her breast cancer—which eventually killed her in 2013—for good measure). After McCurdy hit puberty around age 11, her mother steered her to anorexia via “calorie restriction,” and later began performing invasive breast and genital exams on McCurdy at age 17. As she recounts finding fame on Nickelodeon, beginning in 2007 with her role on iCarly, McCurdy chronicles her efforts to break free from her mother’s machinations, her struggles with bulimia and alcohol abuse, and a horrific stint dating a schizophrenic, codependent boyfriend. McCurdy’s recovery is hard-won and messy, and eventually leads her to step back from acting to pursue writing and directing. Despite the provocative title, McCurdy shows remarkable sympathy for her mother, even when she recalls discovering that the man she called Dad while growing up was not, in fact, her biological father. Insightful and incisive, heartbreaking and raw, McCurdy’s narrative reveals a strong woman who triumphs over unimaginable pressure to emerge whole on the other side. Fans will be rapt. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Jennette McCurdy is the queen of lemonade from lemons, using her trauma to weave a painfully funny story that also illuminates the commodification of teenage girls in America. An important cultural document just as much as a searingly personal one.”—Lena Dunham
“Jennette’s road to finding herself—removed from the expectations of her mother—is impressively funny. She fuses nuanced relationships, complex grief, religious whiplash and Hollywood trauma into a bold story with a specific comedic voice.”—Jerrod Carmichael
“How can a book be so sad and also so funny? It's an art, and Jennette McCurdy has mastered it here. I’m Glad My Mom Died is hysterical and heartbreaking and fascinating all at the same time.”—Jenny Lawson, New York Times bestselling author of Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things and Broken (in the Best Possible Way)
“I'm Glad My Mom Died is furious, sad, brave, knowing, honest, heart-wrenching, and utterly compelling. McCurdy writes with a keen insight and startling compassion. Whether showing how dysfunction can seem normal to those most affected, the torture of eating disorders, or the mindfuck that is child stardom, McCurdy brings readers deep into the milieu so often hidden from outsiders. This is a beautifully crafted coming-of-age story as fearless as its author.” —Lauren Hough, New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing
“Jennette McCurdy’s book is a coruscating picture of her life as a child actor, devastatingly honest and with great understanding of the psychology and emotions operating at a deep level. It’s a riveting read, entertaining and very touching.”—Hayley Mills, New York Times bestselling author of Forever Young
“Jennette’s career as an actor was simply a character in a much more important story. She is a natural writer with a wonderful sense of humor. Her story is heartbreaking with a nice balance of hopeful. I could not put this book down.”—Laraine Newman, original cast member of Saturday Night Live and author of May You Live in Interesting Times
“[An] explosive debut...insightful and incisive, heartbreaking and raw, McCurdy’s narrative reveals a strong woman who triumphs over unimaginable pressure to emerge whole on the other side. Fans will be rapt.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“McCurdy asks readers a question: When and how does one rid oneself of the cage created by others and walk freely? Her stunning debut offers fierce honesty, empathy for those that contributed to her grief, and insights into the hard-fought attachments and detachments of growing older.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Delivered with captivating candor and grace.”—Kirkus (starred review)
The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.
In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.
The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.