Alissa Portillo

Opinions Editor

Trigger warning: abuse, eating disorder, mental health, grief, and manipulation 

Book charts are skyrocketing with a new and yet shocking novel written by Jeannette McCurdy—commonly known as Sam—from Nickelodeon shows like iCarly and Sam & Cat, working closely with actors like Miranda Cosgrove, Ariana Grande, and Nathan Kress. A new memoir that debuted on August 9th, 2022, I’m Glad My Mom Died has since then caught the eyes of the public not just for the unique title but to glimpse into the dark and intensely filled life outside of McCurdy’s commonly known television persona. In her new novel, she reveals her experiences of abuse from her mother causing a chaotic and burdensome relationship, mental health issues, eating disorders primarily coping with anorexia and bulimia disorders, the behind-the-scenes of working with Nickelodeon as a child actor, and many more topics that have been impactful in her life. 

In an interview with ABC News, McCurdy was described as, “…the funny BFF…” while she was a child actor on television shows. Yet McCurdy expresses that, “…behind that bubbly on-screen persona nothing about her real life was funny.” This comedic teenage star had her first acting audition at age six primarily encouraged and pressured by her mother Debra McCurdy who she mentions is the real reason she pursued acting. McCurdy mentions acting especially as a child was not her dream. She further expresses this thought in the interview, “She wanted me to have a better life than she had but, I think her approach was very unhealthy…and she lived vicariously through me.” 

Much of the tumultuous relationship between McCurdy and her mother is the central theme of her newest novel. Which highlights the abusive and manipulative behaviors that McCurdy had experienced with her mother throughout her childhood and teenage years as a rising star. Much of these behaviors that she suffered through also lead to these bodily disorders of anorexia and bulimia. In the same interview, it is said that “[f]rom the tendered age of 11, she says her mother taught her the dangerous habit of calorie restriction.” McCurdy also points out that the calorie restriction was used by her mother because she believed it would benefit her career while also, allowing her mother access to, “…keeping me young and under her influence…”

Not only does McCurdy reveal her darkest secrets of her family to the world, but she also shines a light on being a child actor at Nickelodeon to which ABC News implies, “[i]n her book, she writes after Sam & Cat was canceled, Nickelodeon offered her a $300,000 ‘thank you gift’ if she agreed to never speak publicly about her experience at the network. Specifically, with a man she refers to as ‘The Creator’, who on one occasion she said encouraged her to drink while she was still underage and gave her a shoulder massage.” McCurdy responded, “I just said no it’s not happening. That sounds like hush money to me.” 

As stated earlier, dark and intense themes and topics come up in I’m Glad My Mom Died, but the support and reactions from readers have been just as shocking to McCurdy. She replied in an article published by Forbes, “I’m so grateful for the emotional connection people seem to be having with the book. I couldn’t have predicted it to resonate with so many. It’s really overwhelming in the best way. If people relate to some of the more difficult aspects of the book, well that’s unfortunate. I hope that we can all laugh through all of it together. That seems to be the case, so I’m really glad that people seem to be finding the humor in the tragedy and hopefully being able to heal through that.”

McCurdy’s novel has seen much success in copies being sold online and in bookstores throughout the last few weeks since it debuted. According to an article published by Rolling Stone, it states that “…the book soared to #4 on Amazon’s best-seller charts (and #2 in memoirs), before the physical copy sold out on Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Barnes & Noble altogether.Not to mention that I’m Glad My Mom Died is now a #1 New York Times Best Seller and #1 International Bestseller. According to the Wall Street Journal, her novel has been so highly purchased that these same corporations; Amazon, Target, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores currently have a backorder awaiting to arrive at any moment to restock. Along with shortages in publishing companies, it was said that “[m]any publishers have been forced to adjust their print allotments to contend with supply-chain issues and an ongoing paper shortage. Per Simon & Schuster, the initial print run of Ms. McCurdy’s book was 70,000, and demand for the title has outpaced production…Soon, there will be over 330,000 copies in print.

It is no wonder why I’m Glad My Mom Died is the current biggest hit in entertainment and the book realm. The rise of McCurdy’s novel may be a medium for not just the voices of many—regardless of age–and their experiences with any of the heavy yet attentive topics she discusses but also for students. Students who are in academia and love to read, write, or seek to work in publishing. The students can analyze McCurdy’s experiences through a psychological and sociological perspective, and even students who are interested in entering production or acting set careers. I believe this book can resonate with any student in a variety of different fields and take away resonance to themes introduced and connect it to our experiences and knowledge. Overall, students can leave the book with empathy and understanding. 

If you are interested in purchasing McCurdy’s novel I’m Glad My Mom Died, you can purchase the book as an audiobook, kindle, and hardcover on Amazon and Barnes & Noble while supplies last. You can also check if it is in stock at local independent bookstores near you. 

The Wardman Library currently does not have this novel in stock. However, if you are interested in requesting that the Wardman Library include I’m Glad My Mom Died in the book collections you can suggest an item. To suggest an item you can find the “Suggest an Item” form on Whittier’s website. Azeem Khan, a librarian on campus expressed that if enough students request the novel the Wardman Library will seek to order the book for the library and Whittier College students. 

Nevertheless, some local independent bookstores a few miles away from Whittier to keep in mind are; Gatsby Books, Bel Canto Books, Arvida Book Co., Lido Village Books, and Skylight Books. 

Featured Image Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

 

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