Damn, dude. I knew from the rave reviews this had to be a good one. I was not disappointed in McCurdy’s writing, though heartbroken and left raw from her story.
Jennette McCurdy is well known for her Nickelodeon roles as Sam Puckett on several popular kids shows. She was a huge part of my own childhood, and that is why I felt it so important to read this story, detailing the real life behind the mask she wore on television. McCurdy experienced every kind of abuse at the hands of her mother, who forced her into acting as a child, taught her the eating disorder that still plagues her today, and continued to emotionally destroy her through many of the years that we saw Jennette on screens in our own homes.
The writing in this book is absolutely top notch. The pacing, the voice behind it, are absolutely incredible and showcase McCurdy as an up-and-coming writing talent. I would be honored to read more of her work. I don’t want to acknowledge the substance in this book until I’ve acknowledged that, because as important as it is to read this story for the perspective shift it will create in your childhood memories, it’s just as important to know that this is no ordinary celebrity memoir. Jennette has real talent for writing and creating art from the written word. I was highly impressed and truthfully surprised by that.
That said, it was really hard to read about all that she endured from her mother through her childhood. You can see the echoes of the abuse and the way she’s been programmed to think about herself and others following her into adulthood, with her own relationships and relationship to her mental health being the most critically affected. My heart was breaking and simultaneously screaming over the internalized and broken sense of self that Jennette’s mother created in her.
Terribly disturbed and kind of disgusted that the negative reviews of this book were just mad because they thought Jennette was handling adulthood badly, or not actually looking to grow from her trauma…or even suggesting that the title showed a lack of maturity. I would like to tell those reviewers to kindly !&($ off, and how dare you. I don’t know how anyone can read this and not see an authentic account of what it’s like to come to terms with your own grief and mental illness. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It sure as hell doesn’t have to be wrapped up neatly with a bow. Her angst and impassivity and even her desires not to change or confront the issue were real: I think it’s just as important and poignant to write about a journey towards betterness as it is to write about being better.
I think, by the end, it’s easy to see why Jennette would be glad her mom died. I know the title has created a lot of shock value, but if you step back from it, I think understanding the mixed feelings of grief and growth make it true. She’s glad her mom died, because under her suffocating abuse, she could never grow beyond the problems she created for her. She’s glad her mom died, because she couldn’t be her own person until she did. She’s glad her mom died, because holding your breath and waiting for it to finally happen when you’re expecting it can be crushing, draining, and exhausting. And I don’t blame Jennette for anything she feels in the wake of her mom’s death. I genuinely wish her the best in continuing to get well.
This was a hugely emotional read and I think you will find it to be a rollercoaster of feelings, but I think it’s well worth it. I will read anything else McCurdy publishes; she is a very talented writer and I’m excited to see how she grows.
Enjoy the weekend, friends.