An engaging yet heartbreaking account of a young woman’s worship of her mother throughout childhood, acting career, and eating disorders.


I’m Glad My Mom Died  was well-written and often humorous but incredibly saddening. Jennette begins with her earliest memories which involve the love and adoration of her mother and moves through her childhood recounting her mother’s control and manipulation over her life. Jennette embarks on the journey of becoming an actor at the age of 6 to fulfill her mother’s dreams. She is put under an incredible amount of pressure to be perfect in her appearance, behavior, and a variety of skills to bring her family out of debt. She quickly learned to not state her feelings or opinions and instead lie to agree with her mother’s desires. With her mother’s guidance, she learned to cry on demand by thinking of horrendous what if’s, restrict her calories to prevent puberty (to the point of anorexia), and act roles that no child should act (such as a rape victim or murderer). Her life was dominated by the worship of her mother and fear of her mother’s outbursts.

As she got older, her mother still continued to keep a tight grip on her life as they were “best friends.” Jennette had little say in what she was doing with her life, time, and body even into her twenties. Her mother’s cancer returns and she eventually dies. Then Jennette has to figure out life without her mother. While she is free of her mother’s control, she spirals into alcohol abuse, bulimia, partying, and numbness as she seeks to live out her mother’s standards. Jennette recounts this saddening spiral but is forced by her boyfriend to see a therapist. Progress is made, but the therapist implies that her mother was wrong and she falls apart. Eventually, she makes major headway after a change in acting roles, living situation, and breaking up with her now-stoner boyfriend. The book ends with Jennette finally stopping acting (something she had wanted for years), coming to grips with her mother’s harmful habits, and moving on to a writing career (something she had wanted for a long time) while still continuing to struggle with bulimia, OCD, and anxiety.

Belief Systems:

Jennette was loosely raised in the Church of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) but the overall tone of the book is one without morality or God. Interestingly she recognizes that her family went to church because they wanted something from God (ie. the health of her mother). She also thought the Holy Spirit spoke to her to do repetitive OCD behaviors. Her LDS background most likely also increased her perfectionistic tendencies as a work and success-based religion.

Content Warnings:

There are descriptions of her eating disorder (frequent, graphic), descriptions of sexual behavior (brief, explicit, non-emotional), descriptions of alcohol abuse (descriptive, matter of fact), abuse not described in detail (emotional manipulation, forceful body exams by mother), and cursing (infrequent f-words, s-words, and b-words).

This book should not be read by a teen and should be read with caution as an adult. This book is an interesting look into the world’s perspective on manipulation, emotional abuse, parenting, and eating disorders. It’s not a book for entertainment or edification.

Biblical Perspective:

I’m Glad My Mom Died  overviews the life of a young woman whose mother seeks (and succeeds) to be her god. One of my MABC classes described that an abuser is one who seeks to reverse Romans 11:36 so that from them, through them, and to them is all things (self-worship). This is what Jennette’s mother sought. Understandably, Jennette holds onto this reality from a young age and seeks her mother’s approval in all things. Her mother’s wishes are law, right, and wrong. When she follows them, she is rewarded with affection and love. Breaking these results in shame and guilt as if she sinned. Her only salvation is being perfect or appeasing her mother through her own actions. This drives her to be perfectionistic, desirous of control, anxious, overly analytical, and fearful of man. The standards her mother had impressed upon her became her conscience.

She worshipped and feared her mother in every way. When her mother died she no longer had her god, salvation, moral standard, and purpose. This is tragic. No wonder she spiraled the way she did. Her god was gone and part of her felt like it was her fault (every year on her birthday she wished that her mother would live). She took to bulimia to cope with the shame of her real and perceived sin and gain control over her life. She abused alcohol to numb her conscience and emotions. I am truly glad that Jennette is growing less self-destructive with her eating habits, but my heart hurts for the shame that she carries that can only be cleansed by Christ’s blood. Her solutions have not changed her heart and her desire for control and to be rid of shame still drives her life. She needs the gospel. Perhaps one day, Jennette will come to know Christ as a result of her mother’s death and journey to change.

Personal Thoughts:

This book was completely engrossing but incredibly hard to read. My heart hurt for her often and I was incredibly saddened by the control her mother exerted over her. It reminded me of some of the manipulated behavior that I have experienced (minor in comparison) and some friends who have rough parental situations. This sounds very similar to what they have experienced with their parents (some who claim to be believers!). I want to make sure that I do not manipulate my children or others in such a way. I cannot and do not have the authority to exert dominance and control over their life. God is the standard and he is in control. My job is to teach them his ways and trust him. This book also reminded me of the importance of having a biblical perspective of our bodies and of food. This is something our children will learn from us. All food is clean (Mark 7:19) and should not be viewed through a moral lens. Our bodies are good and are blessings from God (1 Cor 6:19-20, 1 Tim 4:4). Our heart is what can make eating sinful, not the food or our body (Mark 7:15).

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