Coming Clean: A Memoir

Coming Clean: A Memoir

4.6 9
by Kimberly Rae Miller
     
 

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Kimberley Rae Miller writes powerfully about her father’s compulsive hoarding and the dysfunctional household she grew up in, including the idyllic Long Island home that no one would have guessed was a rat-infested wasteland of garbage, lacking heat or running water.
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Overview

Kimberley Rae Miller writes powerfully about her father’s compulsive hoarding and the dysfunctional household she grew up in, including the idyllic Long Island home that no one would have guessed was a rat-infested wasteland of garbage, lacking heat or running water.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An only child to loving parents who were such chronic hoarders that they had to flee their over-stuffed Long Island house rather than face cleaning it, actress and journalist Miller delineates her harrowing childhood and secretive home life. Miller’s bus driver father, a brilliant, however emotionally remote man, collected papers and broken electronics, while Miller’s government-employed mother was a twin whose untreated childhood scoliosis left her shrunken and with a low sense of self-worth, although fiercely devoted to her daughter. Home life spelled a weird combination of obsession and inertia— collected stuff and unused purchases were piled so high that little room was left for the family even to eat or sleep or use the bathrooms; and filth and mold invited rodents As a child Miller realized her family wasn’t like other people’s families with tidy, presentable homes; far from it. A fire destroyed one home when she was in second grade, while the large house they moved into was soon rendered similarly uninhabitable, so that Miller never invited anyone home and had to adopt a “decoy” house to be dropped off at by friends. Eventually she went to college at Emerson in Boston where she kept a clean living space, as she did when she later moved to L.A. and New York City. The reader senses in this horrific story that Miller is still tiptoeing around her family’s dirty secret and hardly revealing the half of it. Agent: Mollie Glick, Foundry Literary + Media. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
Actress and writer Miller chronicles her father's obsessive need to collect things. "Every night before I went to sleep…[I asked] for the things I wanted most in life: new dolls, a best friend, and for my house to burn down," writes the author in this gripping, graphic re-telling of her childhood growing up with a father obsessed with hoarding. A fire would destroy the rats, fleas, piles of junk, newspapers, clothes, cracked picture frames, broken radios and unopened boxes of stuff that filled every square inch of their house. When fire did break out and all was lost, including Miller's pets, she felt nothing but guilt (her pets weren't supposed to die), which quickly turned to anger as their new house soon became consumed by her father's relentless need to collect. She was unable to invite friends over since, within a few years, the new place "started to resemble the remnants at the bottom of a garbage can." A broken boiler and broken pipes created a soggy mess of the entire house, where only one of three bathrooms worked and, then, only intermittently. "The downstairs had become a relative swamp ground…the inches of trash would squish beneath our feet, creating an unsteady terrain," writes Miller, and the house was filled with "floor-to-ceiling piles of boxes and bags of paper and knickknacks, things that had been purchased and put down and long forgotten." Despite all the filth, Miller knew her parents were "doting, fallible people that gave me everything they had, and a whole lot more." Eventually, Miller was able to place a name on her father's condition and slowly learned that it was OK to let close friends know about the situations she'd endured. An engrossing, sympathetic exploration of living with hoarder parents.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780544320819
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/20/2014
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
143,003
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.76(d)

Meet the Author

Kimberly Rae Miller is a writer and actress living in New York City. Her writing on food, exercise, and positive body image has appeared in Condé Nast’s blog Elastic Waist, Yahoo’s Shine, Social Workout, and in Figure magazine. Additionally, Kim writes about New York living, celebrity gossip, and shopping for CBS Radio and CBS New York. In 2010, Kim was featured in Katharine Sise’s breakthrough career guide Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career. She blogs at TheKimChallenge.com.

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