Jeanette McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died” deserves the hype

A truly authentic and genuine celebrity memoir is a unicorn. Jennette McCurdy’s highly anticipated debut, “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” is everything a good memoir should be — honest, funny and exposes a couple of industry secrets to boot. To be honest, no matter how much I like a celebrity, it takes more than notoriety to get me to pick up their book. That being said, I think “iCarly” fans like myself were excited to see that the star of such a quintessential 2010s children’s show was publishing a novel with such an eye-catching title.

“I’m Glad My Mom Died” details McCurdy’s life, acting career and, ultimately, relationship with her toxic and abusive mother. At the beginning of the memoir, McCurdy narrates her memories with a childlike curiosity. Rather than simply retelling the memories of her mother growing up, McCurdy writes the chapters on her younger years as if she’s been transported back into her younger self’s shoes: “’Sorry,’ I say while I poop and Mom wets a paper towel with water . I’m embarrassed she still insists on wiping my butt. I tried to tell her recently that now that I’m eight, I think I can handle it, but she looked like she was gonna cry and said she needs to do it until I’m at least ten because she doesn’t want skid marks on my Pocahontas underwear.”

As the story progresses, the tone of McCurdy’s written voice matures along with her as she gains awareness of the facets of her life that have shaped her. When reflecting on advice from her therapist, she realizes she does n’t want to fall into the same patterns as her mom for the rest of her life: “I think of Mom. I do n’t want to become her. I don’t want to live off Chewy granola bars and steamed vegetables. I don’t want to spend my life restricting and dog-earing Woman’s World fad diet pages. Mom didn’t get better. But I will.” Throughout the course of the memoir, we see a woman grappling with a toxic parent, an eating disorder (started and encouraged by her mother), a struggling sense of self, unhealthy romantic relationships, a lukewarm acting career and an abusive director. Through it all, McCurdy succeeds at keeping the tone light while never shying away from the more tragic aspects of the story. After finding out an important, life-changing detail about her family’s past, she is understandably upset and gets into her Uber where an Ariana Grande song is playing. We hear earlier in the book about McCurdy’s jealousy of Grande during their time on “Sam and Cat” which adds a bit of humor to an otherwise awful situation.