‘I’m Glad My Mom Died’: One of the most intriguing emotional stories about a mother and daughter relationship

Jennette McCurdy’s ‘I’m Glad My Mom Died’ is a story of the struggle, confusion, and pain she experienced while only wishing to please her mother, Debra McCurdy. The mother in question responds to this with criticism and punishment looked at as ‘tough love’. A crude way of parenting that led to a string of mental and physical disorders, some of which Jennette is still processing.

glad my mom died book cover
The cover of ‘I’m Glad My Mom Died’ on the left next to a recent photo of Jennette McCurdy. (Simon & Schuster)

The Beginning and main ideas

She describes her life as a young child, the disorderly way her family and household worked. Debra being a hoarder, devout Momon, later on discovered cheater,  and master manipulator. Her three brothers having different personalities, a father who is always working. And two grandparents, the grandfather also constantly working. And with reasoning that isn’t quite clear, Debra homeschools all four of the children. This later on becomes convenient, yet at the cost of Jenette not loving her career.

Due to Jennette’s only desire to make her mother happy, she follows everything she is told. This of course isn’t done without her mother being extremely manipulative and constantly guilt tripping her. One of Debra’s failed dreams is becoming an actress, so then Jennette is led to the career that will eventually hurt her; a beginning child actor. 

In the book, Jennette portrays a childhood where she had no control, but desperately reached for some. Describing how church was her only escape, because it wasn’t her home where she felt trapped. 

Getting some good background character roles and some main leads, going through acting/dancing classes that most of the time only made Jennette feel more lost, she lands an audition for a character on an upcoming Nickelodeon show. Now before this Jennette was already coaxed into participating in a type of fasting with Debra, that can only be described as an eating disorder. Becoming more wary of what she ate, so she could stay unhealthily thin, making her mother happy. 

How Jennette describes her mother goes from an innocent idea of just wanting to make her proud or happy to explaining how she was slowly realizing things were wrong but not wanting to admit it. I felt a deeper connection with the times she would write how she knew something was off, but only wanting to ignore it and move on. The style of these blips were also a tad emotional, for Jennette was stuck in ultimatums as far as most of these realizations went. 

Experiencing Life Away from Debra

Jennette’s brief music career, she wrote about how while she was on tour, had started experiencing things she didn’t while her mother was around her. This was because her mother wasn’t able to travel with her. 

But she describes having her first relationship with one of the members of her band. The way it was written into the story felt rightfully uncomfortable, because she was never taught anything about having a relationship, besides that she wasn’t allowed to have any. 

Then she also grows what she, at the time,  believed to be an ‘unhealthy’ relationship with food. Eating more regularly and becoming less worried over her weight now that her mother wasn’t around to pressure her into anorexia. 

Seeing the turn of Jennette having more fun spending time away from her mother gave a bit of hope, yet of course it was false when we learn she had to return to Nickelodeon.

‘iCarly’, and Jennette’s role as ‘Sam’

‘Sam’ from ‘iCarly’, a role she grew to despise more and more over time. With the producer being outed as pedophilic, you’d have to think the show was bad. And it was, having shameless foot fetish gags, and many scenes that made Jennette herself uncomfortable.

Getting further insight on what I used to know as a funny show when I was a kid, really opened my eyes to how disturbing these businesses are. The writing goes into explicit detail on how difficult it was to play this character, and to be forever known by that character. Every written anxiety attack or mental splurge is extremely meaningful and rightfully emotional. 

The way Jennette describes the situations she had fallen into paints the picture that she was not only extremely controlled as a child, but heavily sheltered from outside influence. This style of writing really emphasizes this through using capitalization, italics, bold lettering, etc. The book feels casual in its writing while also telling an in depth, horrific tale. 

While the title seems to be something almost nobody would ever say, for all the things Debra had put Jennette through, it is sadly fitting. Jennette further describes her life as a young adult, now working on the show ‘Sam & Cat’, another popular Nickelodeon show. Jennette reveals her jealousy toward her co-star, Ariana Grande. This was because, unlike her, Ariana was able to branch out into music and escape the title of ‘child-actor’.

Jennette talks about her brief experience as a singer, and it didn’t get her far enough to move on from Nickelodeon. It was odd, and maybe because I wasn’t quite on the internet as much when this was happening, but I doubt many kids who only watched TV knew she even made music. 

Young Adult Life and Stress

As Jennette writes on her growing into an adult, things become gradually worse. Addiction to alcohol starts when she is of age, and her unhealthy habits with food increase to the stage of bulimia. 

The story is slowly becoming more and more depressing, each start of a sort of nice relationship with any male turning terrible, and her constant acting as ‘Sam’ taking the life out of her. Jennette goes to therapy, but cannot stick with it due to mental pressure and overall anxiety. And after Nickelodeon tries to pay Jennette so she wouldn’t say anything about ‘iCarly’s producer, she eventually quits acting as a whole. 

Jennette writes about this time in her life as though she had no positive feeling for years, her relationship with her mother worsening since they weren’t constantly around each other like they used to be. Seeing the downward spiral in health is daunting in and of itself.

The bulimic issue gets worse, as therapy was a short term solution to a very deeply rooted issue. Jennette describes bulimia as a savior, almost as if everything will get better when she gets rid of whatever food she purged moments before.

The Death of Debra McCurdy

Debra falls into comatose, and all of the family comes around the ICU to check on her. Jennette especially. When she sees Debra in this coma, a lot of emotions surface. She describes not quite knowing what to do if her mother passes, because all she lived for.. Was her mother.

Then eventually when Debra passes away, Jennette is lost and emotionally ruined. She didn’t have a good relationship with her mother, but that relationship was all she cared about her whole life. 

Jennette moves on, though it takes a long time to process it all. From starting an anorexic diet with her mom, to reaching a wretched 89 pounds as a young adult. Two things she had done to make Debra happy. 

There are many things that happen in between the end and beginning of this novel, many scenes and stories I feel only Jennette has the power to write, as she lived them. The book overall is a great reflection on how important the adolescent stages are, and how treating a child with respect and love above all other things is undoubtedly important. 

The writing is impeccable, reading the story makes you feel as though you are also living and processing it all with Jennette. I hope to find more books of similar writing, and I strongly recommend it to everyone who loves deep, emotional books.