Coming Clean: Book summary and reviews of Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller

Coming Clean

A Memoir

By Kimberly Rae Miller

Coming Clean

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About this book

Book Summary

Kim Miller is an immaculately put-together woman with a great career, a loving boyfriend, and a beautifully tidy apartment in Brooklyn. You would never guess that behind the closed doors of her family's idyllic Long Island house hid teetering stacks of aging newspaper, 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 dazzling memoir, Kim brings to life her experience of growing up in a rat-infested home, hiding her father's shameful secret from friends for years, and of the emotional burden that ultimately led to her suicide attempt. 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 you come from and understanding the relationships that define you. It is also a powerful story of recovery and redemption.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about Coming Clean. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.

Are there parts of your family history that you've needed to keep secret? How has that affected your life?
My mom was bipolar and not diagnosed until much lter in her life. This made life hell in the family. Not until she was diagnosed and taking medication did things calm down but much of the resentments on the children were already in. - guntak

Did anyone else wonder about money?
I wondered about the money also. They were always eating out too. Doesn't she talk about unopened boxes piled up from Amazon? It would be a treasure hunt to see what was in all those boxes. - carmen s

Did this book change your life in anyway?
I recently stayed with a friend who has become a hoarder over the years. It motivated me as well; I just need to get started! - deby

Do you relate to Kim's father’s hoarding habit? Do you own anything that you can't get rid of because it has too much sentimental value?
I am a hoarder of books and shoes. It is extremely hard for me to part with either. I am beginning to take books to the local places that accept such donations because I have far too many and no room for more shelves. I also have a hard time giving... - juliaa

Have you also read Glass Castle? Compare and Contrast Coming Clean and Glass Castle
It has been awhile since I read Glass Castle but it is one of the most memorable books I have ever read. I really liked Coming Clean too but I agree with Michelew that this book doesn't have the depth of Glass Castle. I liked the way that both ... - lynnr

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This searing tale of the damage caused by the disease reflects Miller's deep consideration of her experience; a deeply affecting, remarkably thoughtful, and well-reasoned book, yet the horror is always there. One can only admire Miller's courage in coming clean." - Booklist

"Harrowing… As a child Miller realized her family wasn't like other people's families with tidy, presentable homes; far from it. Miller never invited anyone home and had to adopt a 'decoy' house to be dropped off at by friends… 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." - Publishers Weekly

"An engrossing, sympathetic exploration of living with hoarder parents." - Kirkus Reviews

"Kimberly Rae Miller is a brave and gifted writer, and her insightful examination of her troubled relationship with her parents will speak to anyone who has every struggled to hide a family secret. Coming Clean is a standout coming-of-age memoir. A must read." - Kjerstin Gruys, author of Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall

"Turn off the reality TV and read Coming Clean, an engrossing, beautifully written memoir of growing up in a hoarding family that treats its subject with humanity and grace." - Doreen Orion, author of Queen of the Road

The information about Coming Clean shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by JillF
Hard to put down
This is one of those books that grabs your attention right away. I didn't want to stop reading, except to clean!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Rebecca R
postscript on my review
There were a few more things I wish I had said in my initial review. I think this book is a good reminder of the importance of health care for the mentally ill. Another reason that I couldn't rate the book as a 5 was that I felt like the story wavered in its effectiveness at time and had some less interesting parts. Around page 40, for example, it seemed liked such a short passage describing the period during which there'd been a huge increase in hoarding. Chapter 15, on the other hand, really caught my attention again with the details of the squalor.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Kay
Coming Clean - There is hope for all of us!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Kimberly shared her life in a way that can be an inspiration to all. It was a message of love even under a pile of paper and trash. She gives the reader insight into a life we have recently glimpsed on reality TV shows about hoarders. I found the book wanted me to jump in and "fix" the problem and that kept me reading. I was inspired by Kimberly's continued love to be uplifting. I recommend this read.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Rebecca R
Immediately Interesting
This short book immediately caught my attention. I think the opening comparison of saving some handwritten greeting cards as a mini example of hoarding is one that could help virtually anyone to get a grasp of how a hoarder's brain works. I liked this book very much and felt that the narrator's voice rang true. I struggled with a 4 versus a 5 rating. I think the lack of complexity is what makes a difference to me. As enjoyable as this book is and as much as I definitely will recommend it to others, I just don't think of this as a MUST read 5 star novel. I have wondered about hoarding: has this problem/illness always been so common and we just didn't hear about it in decades past?

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Becky K.
Honest and heartbreaking
In a strange way, Kimberly Rae Miller's memoir "Coming Clean," about growing up with a father who was a hoarder and a mother who was a compulsive shopper, is relatable. Even though I didn't grow up like that at all. But as much as her story is about her unusual upbringing, it's also about the loneliness of being different than others in the family, of being afraid to be honest with friends out of fear that they won't understand, and about being an only child.

"Coming Clean" does not present the same view of hoarders that so-called reality television shows do. I felt like I could understand her parents in a way that I've never experienced by watching those shows. I highly recommend "Coming Clean."

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Toni
Unputdownable! (Is that a word?)
I have seen the various "hoarders" shows on television and cringed just like everyone else and wondered how could people live this way. I had also seen the tears and the pain of the children and family members of the hoarders. This book is written by the child of hoarders and her pain is felt by the reader in each chapter. I couldn't stop reading, I had to see how she lived and how she coped with her life as she grew. Also amazing is how much she loved her parents and how much they loved her but were simply unable to change the way they lived. A truly enjoyable and informative book.

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Author Information

Kimberly Rae Miller Author Biography

Kimberly Rae Miller is a writer living in New York City. She has written for Yahoo's Shine, Figure magazine, and contributed to CBS Radio/CBS New York. In 2012, Kim was featured in Katharine Sise's career guide Creative Girl. She blogs at TheKimChallenge.com.

Author Interview
Link to Kimberly Rae Miller's Website

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