There is a scene in The Beatles film Help at the start of the film where the band gets out of a limousine and all walk toward four separate front doors. As each one enters their home, they are all revealed to be living in the same house. They are presented as all their fans around the world wanted them to be, happy Beatles, moptops, and musical icons for the generation. The problem is, The Beatles were rapidly outgrowing that loveable image. They found it frustrating and it bound them up, preventing growth. But their fans everywhere would love it if that is what they were to this day, never changing, never growing.
In a similar vein, certain television shows (Big Bang Theory, Dads Army, iCarly, Victorious, and so on) present us with characters that we desperately want to be real and believe in because they have added something to our lives. I knew Jennette McCurdy as my son watched Nickelodeon, and he liked me to watch some of his favourites with him. iCarly and Sam & Cat were part of that world, and we loved the character of Sam Puckett. It is therefore something sad when you read how much the actress disliked playing the role and how little she wanted to be associated with it. I’m sorry her mother forced her to enter acting, I felt sad reading about the food disorders, the lack of confidence, and the stupid “Hey Sam, where is your butter sock?” or “Where is the fried chicken?” being shouted out to her. It was sad because I remember the time as a child I shouted over to an actor I liked (Colin Baker), “Where is the Tardis?” I thought I was being so funny as he had been Dr. Who, but actually I realise now how annoying it must have been.
“I hate being known as Sam.” I absolutely hate it. I tried to find some peace with it, but I haven’t (p.206).
This sums up the matter, and given the happiness her character gave to my young son for a couple of years, it made hard reading for me.
Jennette was co-star with Ariana Grande in Sam & Cat, but the timing was all wrong. Ariana Grande was on the verge of international stardom as a singer and her co-star (yes they were equals) was left acting alone to cover up for Ariana’s absences on set all too often. There is not much in the book on this, but if you read the key chapter, there is little love lost.
Jennette, briefly, entered music too, which is a side reason why we are reviewing this book. Perhaps with a push, she could have broken through with this. If you listen to the album, it has a country/pop touch, and it’s a shame she wasn’t given the promotion certain other stars received. Maybe it could have broken through. The perspective here is that there were parts of the 2012 album that certainly had potential. It’s worth a listen. Check out “So Close.”
The book is an analysis of being a child star and the problems it brings. Jennette is a very likeable narrator, and an honest one, almost painfully so. Her battles with eating disorders and the way she deals with growing up are all presented. It is not suitable reading material for children as some of it is a little graphic in places. It is, however, an important recount of parental abuse of a young person when they push their child to live a dream that was never theirs. I opened the book thinking I would find Sam Puckett. I absolutely did not. I found Jennette McCurdy instead, and I’m glad I did.
“I’m Glad my Mother Died” is released on September 15th 2022 in hardback.
It is available for the Kindle now.
And on audiobook.
By Stevie Ritson
& Mark Craster-Chambers