Bourke's Bookshelf: ‘Why do we romanticize the dead?’
This week's featured read is Jennette McCurdy's 2022 memoir, "I'm Glad My Mom Died."
I was 13 in 2007, making me the perfect age for the Nickelodeon sensation “iCarly.”
I loved the quirky nature of the show, which featured three teenage friends who created their own web show. The sweet, bubbly personality of Carly, played by Miranda Cosgrove, was perfectly balanced by the rougher, tomboyish tendencies of her best friend Sam, played by Jennette McCurdy.
The show was a hit for teens and tweens, earning several award nominations and a few wins over its six seasons. While I still feel like I could enjoy revisiting the show as an adult for nostalgia purposes, it wouldn’t be quite the same knowing what I now know was happening behind the scenes after reading Jennette McCurdy’s memoir.
‘I’m Glad My Mom Died’ by Jennette McCurdy (2022)
The title is dramatic. There’s no denying that — especially paired with the pink urn full of confetti on the cover. I know the title has been a turn off for some, but I think it actually made me want to read the book even more. I just had to know how awful a person’s mother could be to elicit that kind of nonchalance. Plus, I love learning about behind-the-scenes happenings on my favorite shows and movies.
Or so I thought.
This book was funny, inspiring, insightful and also heart-breaking.
Growing up, McCurdy didn’t see much of a problem with her relationship with her mom. They were best friends, so her mom’s attempts to control her daughter’s career, diet and looks felt like they were done out of love.
It wasn’t until her adult life, when McCurdy sought out help for her various eating disorders, that she realized the extent of her mother’s various forms of abuse.
Pushed into acting at the age of 6 to live out her mom’s dream and support her entire family, McCurdy didn’t get a typical childhood — or teen years, or young adult years. Sure, she was famous, well-known and well-off financially, but she had next-to-no control over her own life and had to come to learn just how detrimental that was to her emotional, mental and physical health.
It was a difficult book to read as I thought about the little 11-year-old girl who felt like she had to starve herself to be attractive, and the self-conscious teenager who had to parade around in front of bigwig TV execs in a little bikini.
McCurdy and I are only two years apart in age, so in a weird way, it hits me even harder to think about growing up at the same time as her under such drastically different circumstances, with parents who let me be a kid and chart my own course in life.
I’m so glad she was able to tell her story though, able to pursue her true passion of writing and able to share her journey of healing with the world.
THERESA BOURKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .