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Actor Jennette McCurdy’s memoir recounts the dangers of an overbearing mother

Jennette McCurdy starred in “iCarly,” a teen sitcom that ran for five seasons on Nickelodeon. My kids used to watch the show, and I vaguely recall that the weapon of choice for McCurdy’s character, Sam Puckett, was a tube sock filled with butter.

But that’s not what prodded me to pick up the actor’s new memoir. It was the title: “I’m Glad My Mom Died.” It’s shocking and cutting, and it more than hints at the physical and emotional abuse McCurdy suffered during her youth and early adulthood.

The book opens in a hospital room where McCurdy’s mother is in a coma and dying of cancer. Desperate for her mom to be OK, McCurdy leans down and whispers that she currently weighs 89 pounds — the goal weight her mother had set for her. She figures it’s the one thing that might inspire Mom to wake up and keep living. What follows is an honest, shocking and often heartbreaking account of McCurdy’s upbringing in Hollywood and the complicated relationship she had with her mother.

Like many celebrity memoirs, this one recounts the pitfalls of child fame and the dangers of the overbearing stage mom. McCurdy’s mother becomes obsessed with her daughter’s physical appearance and begins enforcing a regimen of “calorie restriction” when the young actor is only 11. McCurdy is desperate for her mother’s love and affection, so this launches a journey of self-loathing, eating disorders, alcohol abuse and fractured relationships.

McCurdy survives, of course, and the memoir is both cautionary and inspiring. Fans of “iCarly” will appreciate behind-the-scenes details of the show, but even readers with only a passing knowledge will find lots to love about this book. McCurdy’s voice is authentic and raw, and her story is worth sharing.

Suzanne Perez is a longtime journalist covering education and general news for KMUW and the Kansas News Service. Suzanne reviews new books for KMUW and is the co-host with Beth Golay of the Books & Whatnot podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SuzPerezICT.