Looking for you next great read? See what the Newfields librarians are reading and loving this month…

This month’s read I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (the star actress from iCarly and Sam & Cat)  is both fascinating and heartbreaking.

With a clean quick style Jennette writes fearlessly about her relationship with her manipulative and abusive mentally ill mother who masterminded Jennette’s show business career. Beginning at the age of six, Jennette was taken to hundreds of auditions she didn’t want to go to but agreed to do to keep her mom happy. The persistence of her mother paid off and she began to get jobs. Her mother would sign her up for more acting lessons (that she hated), dance classes, and singing—anything that would give her a competitive edge.

When Jeannette began to mature, her mother taught her how to restrict her calories and diet to stay excessively thin and look younger. Teachers and doctors noticed but her mother shooed them away saying everything was fine.

Jennette hated herself when she didn’t meet her mother’s expectations. By the time Jennette is ready to live in a place of her own and go on dates, her mother moves into her new apartment with her. Anytime Jennette didn’t meet her mother’s demands, her mother would have a tantrum, throwing things and screaming at anyone who got too close. Eventually, Jennette discovers a new way keep herself thin enough to suit her mother – bulimia.

Ties with her mother begin to break when her mother’s cancer returns and Jennette goes on a singing tour.  After months of drinking too much and meeting someone who tells her she needs therapy or he won’t continue their relationship, Jeannette begins to turn her life around. But it’s not simple. To this day, she is still in recovery.

This book moves along at a quick pace. In spite of that I took my time reading it because this young woman’s reality was horrific and it takes time to absorb that. Jeannette’s story sheds light on how many young actors work ten-hour days and the immense pressures they are under. The behind-the-scenes stories with the other actors are also an interesting peek into Jeannette’s friendships and the Hollywood scene.

In spite of the title of this book, Jennette is not so much glad her mother has died but simply glad that the destructive relationship is over.  

This book is available as a hardcover or as an audiobook or ebook on the Libby app.

-Cori C.

Book cover of two young girls sitting on a suitcase, backs turned to the viewer. 

Title: Before We Were Yours
Author: Lisa Wingate

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong. -Goodreads

This was a slow start for me, but once I was hooked, I was enthralled. This is a beautifully written story and an important piece of history to tell.

The story follows two narratives—a young girl named Rill Foss in Memphis in the 1930s, and Avery Stafford in present-day South Carolina. We don’t immediately know the connection between the two women but as the stories evolve we start to see how they weave together.

Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live on a shanty boat on the Mississippi river. One night, when her parents rush to the hospital for her mother to give birth, Rill is left in charge. But when the police show up and take all the children away to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, Rill is left reeling trying to understand what happened to her parents, and keep her siblings together as she plots a way to return.

In present-day, Avery Stafford, a successful attorney from a wealthy, political family, has a strange encounter with an elderly woman at a nursing home. Avery doesn’t know this woman, but she appears to know Avery’s grandmother. This sets Avery on a journey to uncover just what that connection might be…a quest that may dig up uncomfortable questions and information about her family’s past.

I always love a good family history adventure, but the real star of this story is Rill. Your heart will break for the Foss family and the fear and abuse the children endure. But it’s a fascinating look into a dark chapter of our past, and an important insight into the foundation of modern-day adoptions.

This book is available to check out from the library collection.

-Brittney T.