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.
This book reminded me a tiny bit of Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I really appreciate an author who exposes me to a life I would otherwise not have known. This author grew up with a hoarder for a parent and eventually found herself far enough away from it, and in an emotionally healthy enough state, to write about it. The result was a wonderfully reflective memoir of a girl who loved the parents who could not help but give her a substandard life. In the end, it was clear how much she had to take care of both herself and those who were supposed to care for her.
Often it seems obvious when people rewrite history to fit their current perceptions, but this author seemed able to capture the complexity of emotion that is rarely cut and dry. I loved the cloudy nature of her relationship with her parents. It was clear they loved her and wanted her to have a happy life. At the same time, they simply could not help but engage in behaviors that made having a happy normal life all but impossible.
I once helped a woman who was being evicted from her rented townhouse. I didn't know her very well but I felt compelled to help because she was distraught. I thought to myself, "How bad could it be?" When I walked inside, I could barely fit up the stairs because they were piled with magazines and boxes. Her couch was piled with papers. There was a tiny spot for her to sit. Her home had 3 bedrooms but only one had the tiniest path that led to a bed. The other rooms were packed with boxes, papers, and other things. While packing, she proceeded to cry and talk about every problem in the world, as if she were responsible for solving them all. At one point she had me trapped in a room and was swinging a hammer at me. I was fairly terrified. But, more than anything, I wanted to understand her brain. I can't say this book shed any more light on hoarding behavior. I still don't understand why one person is compelled to hoard, despite the huge and negative impact on their life, while others can easily throw things out. But, I definitely enjoyed reading about this woman's experience having lived with a hoarder.
How very sad. The mental illnesses that inflict us are so sad. They effect our family along with us. I never realized the torment the family has to go through. The shame the afflicted goes through. I self sorry for both. Blame could not be given to the afflicted or the family dealing with the problem.
This book hit me quite hard. I'm a little too close to the subject. Both my parents horded, although not to the level described in the book. So much of her experience as the child of horders was all too familiar. Her story is told with a lot of grace and compassion. She can both hate her parents and love them, and that's beautiful. Understanding your parents can give you great sympathy. Her own father said something about the book which went something like, wow, this is quite a story, I'm sorry it had to be yours. The audiobook is read by the author who is a professional actor so is quite lovely. That little touch adds to the intimacy of the story. While there are references to various research, that is not the focus of the book. This is a very personal journey. Maybe it won't have the same impact for those who haven't experienced the embarrassment and shame of the messy house. It also reminds me how much you get used to it all, and it's only when you leave that you can fully appreciate it for what it was. Some of the stories are not for the squeamish.
The author had an amazing story to tell. She recalls the story of her life with such emotion and reality. She paints a vivid picture of what so many people go thru.
I loved this book. It was so honest, telling details about a little girls' life that must have been hard to reveal. Kimberly talks about how she grew up, how angry she was, her shame and guilt for feeling ashamed. She is profoundly strong and I admire her for being honest with her feelings.
I did not like the performance of this story at all, unfortunately. Usually I prefer the author to read, because they often will show more emotion or be more engaging reading their own work, but Kimberly has a very soft and whispery voice that made it hard for me to concentrate or even hear her most of the time.
Amazing book, but perhaps reading he written version would be much better
Absolutely one of the best experiences I have had in listening to a book. It is just incredible. Delves into a subject that must haunt many in our society but is never talked about in a real way. This is the author reading what was her experience growing up as a child of hoarders and it is beautifully written, thoughtful, poignant, heartbreaking and riveting. I stayed up all night to finish it in one sitting. A must listen!!!
I know a couple of hoarders. Kimberley's accounting of her experiences were fascinating and honest. The legal and social consequences are enormous for the families of hoarders.
Likes: Cozy mysteries (cats a plus), personal memoirs,not too dark fantasy, books about the brain. Dislikes: Torture, animal cruelty.
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.
Right up there in the top 10!
It was a true story and people really live with this illness.
She was so honest. Nice voice, very easy to listen to.
Very enjoyable book. I kept thinking, "wow, some people really do live like this".
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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