I love a good memoir, and this one did not disappoint. Before reading this book, I knew who Janette McCurdy was, and that she had been a child star on Nickelodeon. I did not know what she had been through.
Jennette McCurdy got her start in child acting, which, by her late teen years, had brought her great success. She starred in Nickelodeon's hit show iCarly and her own spin-off, Sam & Cat, co-staring alongside Ariana Grande.
I had never watched either of these shows. You do not need to be a fan to read this very personal and at times, confronting telling of her experience of abuse at the hands of her narcissistic mother.
Janette talks about being forced into acting at a young age. Acting is not something she ever really enjoyed and, at times, caused her great distress and anxiety. Janette’s mother told her at age six that she wanted her to be an actor, as her own parents had not allowed her to become one. This was her mother’s dream, not hers. Janette wanted to be a writer. Her mother once said to her, ‘writers get fat’.
Her mother manipulated Janette to depend emotionally on her and Janette always felt she was responsible for keeping her needy mother happy. The manipulation of an innocent and vulnerable child is heartbreaking to read.
What’s even more heartbreaking is the crippling eating disorder Jannette developed thanks to her mother’s outrageous and abusive behaviour. Her mother placed her on strict low-calorie diets and weighed her regularly. They would often share a small salad as a meal. Her mother placed her own insecurities about her own body image onto her innocent and impressionable young daughter.
Her mother was also a hoarder, filling their house with objects the family couldn’t afford and forcing Janette and her brothers to sleep on floor mats instead of beds. She constantly fought with Janette’s father, sometimes becoming violent. Janette recounts a time in the memoir when her mother chased her father with a knife.
Jannette opens about being showered by her mother and made to endure humiliating breast and genital exams well into her late teens.
Janette tells her story in an honest, no pulling punches way. That is a brave and courageous thing to do. This book may be triggering for those who have experienced abuse as a child.
Janette’s mother died in 2013 after a long battle with cancer. Janette gave up acting and is now following her dream of being a writer.
Janette attended therapy after her mother passed away and realised her mother was an abuser. She worked through the trauma and the impact it had on her formative years.
This is a great read. Good on Janette for telling her story and coming out the other end a stronger person. I give it 4 stars.