It is a particularly exciting experience to read a popular book while it’s popular, and I often am either too stubborn to be swayed into reading mainstream books or too far behind on my TBR list to add a brand new one. That was not the case with Jennette McCurdy’s memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, which came out at the beginning of August and is already a smash hit. I was enthralled with the former Nickelodeon star’s book and devoured it cover to cover.
Maybe my childhood memories of watching McCurdy in iCarly fueled my ambitious reading speed, but the memoir itself stands strongly on its own apart from her child-stardom. Spanning the time she was just around 6 years old to her late twenties, McCurdy details the obsessive pressure her mother placed on her to be an actor. The fervor with which she wanted her daughter to be famous quickly developed in teaching her to “calorie restrict,” which horrifically evolved into a life-long string of eating disorders of which McCurdy will never completely be free. Her mother also exhibited many signs of undiagnosed mental illness, manifesting most profoundly as hoarding and obsessively restricting her own diet.
McCurdy’s memoir moves linearly, a narrative choice that punches home the notion that mental illness itself does not follow a linear path of recovery. So much of the book is about the years of her adolescence and early adulthood she spent sinking farther and farther into a hole of self-loathing and self-destruction. McCurdy’s life up until her mid-to-late twenties was riddled with addiction and bulimia, all the while smiling for Nickelodeon as if her life wasn’t crushing her day after day. And then her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The death of McCurdy’s abusive parent was unsettling and complex, a barrage of relief that she was free from the abuse but also sorrow that her mom was dead. Beyond this particularly warped brand of grief, she not only lost her mother but had to watch her slowly and viciously die. She posits the years of her life after her mother’s death almost as a renewal, as it was the first time in her life that she had full control of her body and her career.
Cathartic and achingly candid, McCurdy’s memoir is a solid portrait of survival and the moxie it requires to laugh at and in spite of your trauma. If you have been considering giving I’m Glad My Mom Died a read, I highly recommend it!
This title is also available as an eBook on Libby.
Maurice Benard, the American actor of Salvadorian and Nicaraguan descent who has played the character Sonny Corinthos on the ABC soap opera General Hospital for twenty-seven years, has written a biography this year called Nothing general about it; how love (and lithium) saved me on and off General Hospital. The Emmy award-winning actor may not be known for his writing, but he gets real in this book and that is worth more than any award. He lays bare the ugly things he did while in the throes of bipolar disorder, a disease he has suffered from nearly his entire life. He is honest about his vulnerabilities and gives credit to the people in his life who have loved him through it all, especially his wife of 30 years, Paula, who had to endure some frightening moments with him. His story is a testament to how difficult and pervasive mental health problems can be, no matter how you look, where you’re from, how much money you make or what you do for a living.
In 2006, the writers of General Hospital revealed that the character Sonny Corinthos suffered from bipolar disorder. Since then, Benard has publicly advocated for mental health awareness on talk shows and with organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). He is a spokesperson for the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).
Fans of General Hospital or Benard will appreciate the full-color photographic insert, containing his and Paula Smith’s wedding photos, images of his four beautiful children, and members of the General Hospital cast. Readers who are dealing with their own or a loved one’s mental illness will likely find it relatable and insightful. You can check out his book in the Biography section at the Library at Eastern, or place a hold and have it sent to a location of your choosing.
Everyone’s favorite TV barfly George Wendt makes a foray into the author world in Drinking with George: A Barstool Professional’s Guide to Beer. Before your inner skeptic kicks in, consider this chapter-opening confession from a proud 0.0 GPA recipient during a sojourn at Notre Dame University:
“I’ll be the first to admit that I lucked into the role of Norm Peterson, a character whom I’d been training to play my whole life.
Under one set of covers, Wendt gives you a mini-biography, a slew of interesting beer facts, funny beer anecdotes from his own life, and lighthearted fare regarding his Hollywood friends. None of these pile up too thick in any of this collection of 1-4 page essays, so like what the “born-on” date has done for Budweiser products, the book stays fresh.
This title has what is known in some circles as a crisp finish and clean aftertaste. The funniest and most interesting stories are in about the last third of the liter..er… book. But, hey, relax. We’re not talking War and Peace here. Perfect for the attention span of the mead-swiller in your life.