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Publisher's Summary

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.

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  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I loved this book.

This book helped me see life through my child's eyes. While I am not a full-blown hoarder, I do struggle with clutter and have trouble assigning a place to everything. So it can get messy. This is a heartfelt read and the delivery was perfect, in a friendly, personal tone.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Janet&Greg
  • Huntington Beach, CA, United States
  • 09-30-13

I look at homes differently now.

What did you love best about Coming Clean?

Her amazing strength to live through this experience and come out on the other side with humor, intelligence and a love for her family.

Which character – as performed by Kimberly Rae Miller – was your favorite?

The main character. It's been a while since I've read the book, but I liked the author the best. It was her story.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Just shock that so many people live like this. How they could allow their daughter and animals to live like this. Fleas!!!

Any additional comments?

Sad these people can't get help.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Cynthia
  • Monrovia, California, United States
  • 02-14-16

Not the kind of people good things happened to

Growing up, I was friends with two sisters, M- and J-. They lived in a large three story Victorian house that was charmingly painted in authentic pre-20th century colors. I was invited to their home one day, and was shocked to find the living room stacked to the top of the 12' high ceiling with boxes, with just a narrow path to a couch and to the restroom. Startled, I asked if they were getting ready to move. M- and J- assured me they weren't. I've wondered for more than 30 years what it was like for my friends, living like that.

Years later, shows like Style Network's "Clean House" (2003-2011), followed by A&E's "Hoarders" (2009-2013; 2015-present); TLC's "Hoarding: Buried Alive" (2010-2013) gave a name for what I'd seen so long ago: compulsive hoarding. It's a phenomenon that's been trendy to watch - in a train wreck kind of way - for a while. It's often a heartbreaking, sometimes inexplicable watch - why do hoarders hoard, and why do people stay with them?

Kimberly Rae Miller touches on the first question lightly, but "Coming Clean: A Memoir" (2013) is really about why she and her mother stayed with Miller's father, a prodigious hoarder. Miller's physically and emotionally fragile mother had a compulsive shopping habit, so there's a synergy - or, more aptly, a codependence.

Miller, as their child, didn't have a choice. The conditions she grew up in were not only oppressively cluttered but often out-and-out dangerous. Miller mentions broken pipes that weren't fixed because her parents were too embarrassed by piled up papers and junk to have someone in to make repairs. There was flooding, squishy papers, fleas, vermin, and even a squatter who lived undiscovered in the attic. She also mentions repeated trips to the hospital emergency room for asthma. Miller was treated so often the hospital gave her a breathing machine. No one investigated how she was living and why she kept getting so sick. Miller did such a good job covering and passing, she appeared to almost everyone to be a typical middle class teenager. What Miller described was something I'd tried to imagine about my friends' life, but I know now that I underestimated how bad things must have been.

Miller is an actress now, but in a way, she's been one almost her entire life. She's also so compulsively an unhoarder she could probably give Marie Kondo ("The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" (2011, Japanese; 2014, English), "Spark Joy" (2016)) lessons on throwing things out. What was most touching about the whole book is that Miller - although she is probably always going to be mad at her parents for her upbringing - doesn't hate them. She loves them, and time after time, with patience mixed with exasperation, tries to help them.

Miller performed the book herself, and it was a good production. I'd expect she would do well as an Audible narrator for other authors if she chose.

The title of the review is a paraphrase of a longer quote from "Coming Clean."

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

9 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Talk About Obsessive!

I was obsessed with this moving memoir. I just couldn't stop listening! As someone who loves order and loathes dirt, I was initially put off at reading about the experience of hoarding. I found the book to be less about hoarding and more about love.

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  • B
  • 12-08-17

good motavation

My parents were hoarders, but not this extent. Thank u for sharing your hard story.

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  • Jinxie
  • Tewksbury, MA
  • 12-06-17

Interesting story

For those of us who had parents that were "slightly OCD with clutter", this shows the deep seated psychological affects this can have on the surrounding people, as well as those afflicted with hoarding. I like that its from the point of view of the child who has parents with the problem. Although my mom wasnt as bad, I do remember that feeling of cleaning it knowing it would end up exactly as it was before.

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Touching story

This is a great story for anyone that has struggled with living in a home in which you are embarrassed to invite people in. The performance was wonderful as it was read by the author and you can hear the emotion in her voice.

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Well written.

I felt this book was well written. Seeing how the effects of growing up with a parent who is a hoarder. It was enhanced in my opinion having the author reading the book. Putting her voice to her thoughts helped the book really feel real and gave it a more serious feel. Well done.

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great insight and honesty

This is a phenomenal , honest insight into the life of a hoarder's child. Nothing typical,and an honest portrait of what it is like to love totally flawed parents. It was a mesmerizing ride and I would highly recommend this book!

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  • Story

interesting story

an interesting look into a strange situation. Read by the author. her voice may lack a little gusto but was overall enjoyable.