S3E1. I’m Glad My Mom Died

We’re baaaaack! To kick off Season 3, we’re covering the very hyped memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. We discuss Jennette’s experience of childhood abuse and eating disorders, complicated grief, and our thoughts on her recovery process. FYI, our episodes are now two-parters: we start with general discussions without spoilers, then we dive into the details.

Mental health issues covered: eating disorders, complicated grief, emotional, verbal, and financial abuse, trauma.

Additional trigger warnings: substance abuse, death of a parent, cancer, hoarding, panic attacks, mentions of schizophrenia/psychosis, OCD

Listen to the podcast:

About the Book

Jennette McCurdy was six years old when she had her first acting audition. Her mother’s dream was for her only daughter to become a star, and Jennette would do anything to make her mother happy. So she went along with what Mom called “calorie restriction,” eating little and weighing herself five times a day. She endured extensive at-home makeovers while Mom chided, “Your eyelashes are invisible, okay? You think Dakota Fanning doesn’t tint hers?” She was even showered by Mom until age sixteen while sharing her diaries, email, and all her income.

In I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette recounts all this in unflinching detail–just as she chronicles what happens when the dream finally comes true.

About the author

Jennette McCurdy starred in Nickelodeon’s hit show iCarly and its spin-off, Sam & Cat, as well as in the Netflix series Between. In 2017, she quit acting and began pursuing writing/directing. Her one-woman show I’m Glad My Mom Died had two sold-out runs at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre and Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles. She hosts a podcast called Empty Inside. (At the time of writing, the podcast appears to have been taken down.)

Jennette recently closed a deal to write her debut fiction novel, which will be released in 2024. More information can be found on her website, Instagram, and Twitter.

Our Thoughts

We typically cover fiction novels, but we’ve made an exception with I’m Glad My Mom Died. Elise read it first and highly recommended it, and we both found it fascinating. It is such a frank and thoughtful portrayal of lived experience, so we wanted to discuss it on the podcast.

We both thought that this is a highly compelling memoir, enhanced by the experience of listening to Jennette narrating the audiobook. Jennette’s writing (and narration) is blunt and matter-of-fact, and she’s able to reflect on her experiences through adult eyes without directly telling the reader what to think. As this is her experience, we’re not here to say whether this book is ‘accurate’ in portraying mental health issues. However, we think it is a good examination of eating disorders – particularly what can lead to their development and how they are maintained – and trauma. It also can prompt discussions about maternal abuse, OCD with religious undertones, therapy, and being a carer.

Overall, we highly recommend I’m Glad My Mom Died. Just keep the content warnings in mind, as its content is unflinching at times.

Discussion Questions

  • Did you listen to the audiobook? What did you think of Jennette’s narration?
  • What do you think may be the pitfalls of child stardom? Why do some child stars grow up fairly well-adjusted, and others go on to have a really hard time?
  • What are your thoughts on Jennette’s mum, Deborah? Why do you think she acted as she did, and were her actions ever justified?
  • To you, what was the most alarming thing about Deborah’s relationship with Jennette (out of the many alarming things)?
  • “Especially moms, they’re the most romanticized of anyone.” Do you agree with this statement? Would it have been less shocking if the title was ‘I’m Glad My Dad Died’? Why/why not? Or, let’s discuss Jennette’s question: ‘why do we romanticise the dead?’

Resources

The Next Book We’ll Discuss Is…

Tiger Daughter by Rebecca Lim!

Summary: Wen Zhou is the daughter and only child of Chinese immigrants whose move to the lucky country has proven to be not so lucky. Wen and her friend, Henry Xiao – whose mum and dad are also struggling immigrants – both dream of escape from their unhappy circumstances and form a plan to sit an entrance exam to a selective high school far from home. But when tragedy strikes, it will take all of Wen’s resilience and resourcefulness to get herself and Henry through the storm that follows.

Tune in to this episode in March 2023. In the meantime, pick up a copy and read along with us. We’d love to discuss the book with you!

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