Kim Miller is an immaculately put-together woman with a great career, a loving boyfriend, and a tidy apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. You would never guess that Kim grew up behind the closed doors of her family’s idyllic Long Island house, navigating between teetering stacks of aging newspapers, broken computers, and boxes upon boxes of unused junk festering in every room - the product of her father’s painful and unending struggle with hoarding. In this moving coming-of-age story, Kim brings to life her rat-infested home, her childhood consumed by concealing her father’s shameful secret from friends, and the emotional burden that ultimately led to an attempt to take her own life. And in beautiful prose, Miller sheds light on her complicated yet loving relationship with her parents that has thrived in spite of the odds.
Coming Clean is a story about recognizing where we come from and the relationships that define us - and about finding peace in the homes we make for ourselves.
©2013 Kimberly Rae Miller (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I have an interest in hoarding that I find hard to explain to myself, since I've never seen it in my own family (we're mainly drunkards) nor among my friends (more victims of bad taste rather than hoarders.) I suspect it may be a reflection of my own "everything in its place, and I mean EVERYTHING, do I have to do everything around here myself? Were you raised by wild pigs?" mentality.
But whatever the reason, since awareness of the disorder (and I do think it's a mental disorder with physical symptoms) surfaced in mainstream culture, I've been fascinated. I think I really want to know why someone would do this to themselves and their families.
Kimberly Rae Miller does not answer this question. Instead, she gives us an insider's look at what it is like to grow up in a hoard and to love the parents who "chose the stuff over me." I was really surprised by the strength of the love binding Kim and her parents, bonds that all the stuff in the world couldn't break (though there were times...)
I admit I was teary-eyed at several places in the narrative, which the author does very skillfully herself. At the end, I was pretty sure that Kim is as in the dark as most people who do not have the disorder are about why hoarders do the things that they do, but that she was lucky to come from the family she did nonetheless.
I have not read the print version.
I do love audio books and hearing the author read this book was definitely a plus. However, the author was almost whispering through long portions of the book. Maybe she was just a little too close to the material to be a good choice to read it.
Definitely when the author tells a little white lie that turns into a massive problem for her parents.
Soft, Whispery, Detached
Yes, knowing that there are millions of people in the US who live in houses at all stages of hoarding. To think of children trying to survive in these conditions is just heartbreaking. Seeing an hour long television show is nothing like hearing about decades of the problem affecting a family.
I think the author did an amazing job of showing her parents as people who are struggling with a disorder, but that was not the only thing that defined them. I truly hope that she is able to set appropriate boundaries and have a family of her own.
It was a well organized story about the emotional struggles resulting from growing up with hoarding parents. I didn't have to backtrack, thinking I missed a key piece of information. The story and narration flowed smoothly and kept my interest.
I liked the honesty of the writer. Her struggles on several levels were sad, but fascinating.
Loved the performance! Her voice is smooth and clear with appropriate inflection. The fact that it was HER story came through stunningly in the narration.
I'd love to read/hear more works by this author.
Who knew that being the daughter of a compulsive hoarder would precipitate so much dysfunction? This is an eye-opening book written by the only child of a man who could not throw anything away, and a woman who was a compulsive shopper. Not a good combination. The reasons for these dysfunctions are deep-seated and hard to remove. As part of her journey, Kimberly had to accept the fact that they would probably never change. It was a rough journey for all of them, but beautiful to watch as Kimberly was able to achieve her own goals. Very well written and narrated, this book was a great listen.
Not since "Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls has a memoir moved me so deeply (and if, after reading Coming Clean, you find yourself thinking "what a great book!" you might want to read or listen to "The Glass Castle: A Memoir")
I digress. Ms. Miller offers the memoir of her childhood entrapment in and young adulthood escape from the misery of her very sick parents with simple, very clean prose (fitting, it would seem.) From the first words, it was clear that this was an unusually bright child with a very big problem - two, in fact. Her parents' mental and physical challenges create a world for this little girl that is difficult to imagine ... until she tells us about it. Then it comes to life.
Her gift for presenting her little girl's world with the brutal frankness of a child, without flinching from the facts or sparing our feelings makes the unfolding of the story mesmerizing. But it is in some ways also joyful to read because, as adults, we understand how broken her life was and yet how much she was given by parents who, while damaged and damaging, were also as loving and generous and giving as they knew how to be.
The book is also a testament to the tenacity of some people and their ability to overcome. She could do what her father and mother could not and thus saved not only herself but, to a great extent, her parents as well.
I found Ms. Miller's reading of the book to be less than satisfactory as her very soft voice and the "flat" presentation were distracting. I also found her range of voices was very limited so It was sometimes difficult to follow who was speaking when it was not her character, her father or her mother. A professional narrator might have given the characters more depth, which I think would have been a good thing.
Nevertheless, it's a deeply moving, extremely compelling, what-in-the-world-will-happen-next story.
Highly recommend for either reading or listening.
....you can't look away. I feel so incredibly normal after listening to Miller's tale of life with two hoarding parents. She draws a clear picture in the listener's mind of the filth and chaos amidst which she lived as a child and the impact that situation had on her as she became an adult. Though the book is relatively short, it is just the right length to keep your interest.
Likes: Cozy mysteries, esp w/cats, books on workings of the brain/autism, not-too-dark fantasy. Dislikes: Animal cruelty, torture scenes.
I am one of those people who is fascinated by hoarding and I have watched a ton of shows on TV about it, but this book was so much better than those shows. Getting to know the characters better and seeing them change over time really added dimension that is missing on those TV shows. It was particularly interesting to watch roles within the family change over time as Miller transitions from the child to an almost parental role in dealing with her parents. It is amazing how the background of challenges created such a strong person. I liked too that this was a book about a challenging childhood without being one of the many abuse memoirs. I liked Miller's narration too once I got over wishing she would speak just a little louder.
I'm an avid reader who now listens to books on tape. I'm a bit late to the game but enjoying the hands free reading.
This was an amazing account of a woman's life as a child of hoarders. Her storytelling was compassionate and compelling. Normally I wouldn't read such a book as I have judgements about people who hoard. But Miller's narration drew me in from the very beginning and I couldn't stop listening. Even when I was uncomfortable and disgusted, I continued listening for what would happen next.
One of the best-read memoirs.
The failure of her mother's surgery.
I wish more memoirs on audible were read by the authors.
I wasn't too taken with this book when I started & listened to a few other books thinking to return this book in a day or so. For some reason I started listening again & my engagement with Kimberly Rae hit me big time. While Iike many. I know a bit about hoarders, I know very little about the effect of hoarding on family members. The author explained the "love/hate" that many family members feel towards the hoarder or indeed any addict family member very lucidly and with much compassion. I wish Kimberly Rae & her family a happy healthy future as I do anyone struggling with an addiction & it has effect on the family members.
This book is well worth the time & credit.
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