An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2013: Most children who grow up in dysfunctional families don’t realize at first they’re any different from anybody else—but Kimberly Rae Miller is more observant than most; from childhood, she had a growing sense that there was something wrong in her household. A brilliant guy who ended up driving a bus, Miller’s father was an extreme hoarder, and the family’s normal-from-the-outside (at least for a while) Long Island home was a mess (or treasure trove, depending on your point of view) of useless (or fascinating) papers and junk (important stuff). In Coming Clean, Miller, an actor and writer, chronicles her weird childhood and adolescence, but what’s really unusual about this buoyant, winning memoir is that for all that the author describes the familial dysfunction in heartbreaking, copious detail—and for all that she sometimes lost patience with her parents—she never stops showing that she loves them. As readers we come to love them, too—partly because, whatever else, they managed to raise such a smart and witty and generous daughter. —Sara Nelson
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.