When I first heard of the book I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy, actress turned writer, director, podcaster and singer, I thought the title was sarcastic, but reading through 91 chapters, I concluded the title was not harsh enough.
A brutally honest but humorous memoir, McCurdy talks about her childhood trauma including an eating disorder, her acting career, or rather the career her mother forced on her, a complicated relationship with her narcissistic mother and her absent father.
I'm Glad My Mom Died is both heart-wrenching and hilarious.
When she relates events of her sixth birthday party, the gifts unwrapping, I thought she was not being fair to her cancer-survivor mom. That she was angry simply because her mother had forced her into being an actress.
She was six years old when she had her first audition.
“I want to give you the life I never had, Net. I want to give you the life I deserved. The life my parents wouldn’t let me have,” McCurdy writes of her mother’s manipulative guilt tripping explanations.
“An hour and a half. Granted, freeways are involved. I’d have to learn how to drive freeways. But it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for you, Net. ’Cuz I’m not like my parents. I want what’s best for you. Always. You know that, right?”
McCurdy relieves the conversations to show the reader how as a teenager her mother was emotionally abusing her, always making her feel ungrateful. “So what do you say? You want to act? You want to be Mommy’s little actress?” her mother would prod.
The details get disturbing, as she writes how her mother insisted on bathing her and her older brother until the age of 16, and inflicting breast and bottom inspection on them. And if McCurdy and her brother resisted, the mother would cry. “He’s almost 16 at this point. I get really embarrassed when she showers us together. I can tell he does too,” she says of the ordeal they suffered with her older brother.
She is very deliberate that she doesn’t ever use the word ''abused,'' she tells it in a furious, yet sad and brave, honest, heart-wrenching, and compelling way. It’s up to the reader to decide.
Reading this book was hard. I sometimes had to put it aside and watch funny stuff to not get emotional. But the story is unrelenting.
As she reached puberty and her body started changing, her mother put her on calorie restrictions to help her “stay young.” Suffering from an eating disorder, no self-love or sense of self-care, McCurdy walked away from her mother at the age of 21, in search of her biological father. Both her step-father and biological father were never around causing friction with her mother.
McCurdy suggests that it was the missing presence of her step-father that made her mother be obsessed with her, treating her as an adult instead of the child that she was.
I'm Glad My Mom Died sheds light on the effects of child stardom, emotional manipulation, eating disorder, and the complicated truth that abuse can happen under people's noses and excused for ''concerned parenting.''
“She gave me breast and vaginal examinations until I was 17 years old. These made my body stiff with discomfort. I felt violated, yet I had no voice, no ability to express that.
''I was conditioned to believe any boundary I wanted was a betrayal of her, so I stayed silent. Co-operative,” noted McCurdy after coming to terms that her mother was abusive.