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Coming Clean

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  33,148 ratings  ·  2,385 reviews
A stunning memoir about a childhood spent growing up in a family of extreme hoarders and hiding squalor behind the veneer of a perfect family. 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 she spent her childhood hiding behind the closed doors of her family’ ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 23rd 2013 by New Harvest (first published June 18th 2013)
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Leli By the end Kim has a few theories, about what caused both her parents to become hoarders. Truly though, this is not a story of hoarders, it is a story…moreBy the end Kim has a few theories, about what caused both her parents to become hoarders. Truly though, this is not a story of hoarders, it is a story of love and redemption, forgiveness and family. I would recommend finishing the story. (less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  33,148 ratings  ·  2,385 reviews

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Kelly Butcher
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I snatched this book up at the library yesterday, hoping to finally read a book that I could relate to. I have never really told anyone- except my husband and his family (and they will never know how bad it really was), but I grew up in the house of a hoarder. In the eighties, we didn't have a name for it as Kimberly writes. In the eighties, it was just the way we were. I could relate viscerally to her descriptions of her life in her filthy house. This book brought back my experiences vividly- g ...more
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
3.5 stars

This review had to wait because I had to disinfect my house. Serious Lysol action, people, because this:


I'm the flipside of a hoarder. I scrub my tile with a toothbrush. I've probably traumatized my children forever by saving only their best school/craft projects (and only then in digital format) and throwing out the rest. I can't abide knick-knacks. I threw away my high school year books (who needs those as a reminder of claw bangs and bad perms?). I don't have a particular
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
As a little girl, I used to lie in bed, thinking Maybe if I endure all my pain now, I could be happy when I am older. Emerson felt like my reward for the years of shame I'd logged.

This is a memoir about a woman whose father was a hoarder. It is relatively light, uplifting, and loving - which can sometimes be missing from hoarding memoirs.

Miller loves her parents deeply. Her parents are funny, sweet, attentive, encouraging, and kind. This really shows in the novel and is something Miller stresses
Feb 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This book contains 254 pages of some of the most blatant self-aggrandizement I've ever read. It's a memoir, supposedly, about one woman's experience of growing up with a hoarder father and a compulsive shopper mother, but, really it's a story about Kimberly Rae Miller, her exceptional beauty, her career as an actress, and her amazing website.

At 254 pages, the book is approximately 100 pages too long, and, though Ms. Miller tells her readers that she's “a comedienne and a writer,” her story is no
Julia Roller
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I'm sure many other reviewers will also compare this book to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, for its portrayal of a resilient daughter growing up with intelligent but troubled parents. Both books are great reads. Kimberly Rae Miller's book is so easy to read that you can almost forget at times how troubling her story is--born to loving parents who were also chronic hoarders. Her dad collected paper and broken parts of just about everything, and her mom, who seemed to become a hoarder as a k ...more
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
For a book about a child growing up in a hoarding environment, I found this to be surprisingly tragic. Like many others, I'm addicted the popular tv shows that feature, and some might argue exploit, this mental health issue. If you look around online, it's not hard to find articles and forum comments that are very judgmental, and often times vicious, toward the people who appear on these shows. It's not uncommon for viewers to suggest that watching Hoarders is inspiration to clean their own home ...more
Jay Warner
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended to me by the Children of Hoarders group. Since I am the child of a hoarder, I was interested to see how Miller's experiences compared to mine and how she dealt with growing up in a hoarded home. I found her style easy to read and finished the book quickly. Her descriptions of walking on stacks of slick papers and not wanting her friends to know where she lived were particularly vivid. Sometimes I felt she tried to rationalize and justify her parents' behavior but I also ...more
Julie Ehlers
Coming Clean was fascinating in exactly the way I'm always going to find hoarding stories fascinating. However, the writing was nothing special—generally competent, but with more than its fair share of awkward sentences. I also can't say that I felt anything while reading except for shock at some of the details about the hoarding, so the overall emotional impact was low. It gets three stars from me instead of two because it was a genuine page-turner, but if you're not particularly interested in ...more
Dawn Edgar
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book offers a factual account of what it is like as a child growing up with parents who are hoarders. Made me very interested in the topic of hoarding and why people do it; I actually researched it a little while reading this book. My conclusions are mostly because they are a little bit ADHD, OCD, easily overwhelmed, messed up in the head and...lazy? The editors of the DSM are looking to include hoarding as a personality disorder. The way Miller writes her parents, there is definitely somet ...more
Jul 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm not the type of reviewer that gives a "book report" synopsis of a book that you might be about to read; I/you can get that in the publisher's comments. What I would like to tell you, however, is that Coming Clean is one of the most honest books I've ever read. While reading, I never felt that Kim was trying too hard to steer her story to include more drama or to shock you into feeling sorry for her. Her story was real; heartbreaking at times, heartwarming at other times and true to the title ...more
Alice 🌙

4/5 ⭐ This was a really well written memoir and I enjoyed it a lot, especially the epilogue. The end.
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hoarding
Kimberly Rae Miller has had a dark family secret that she has spent most of her life trying to keep it hidden. Her parents are hoarders.

Miller describes her dad as a dotty, sweet man who goes around trying to collect information whether it’s listening to news on the radio constantly or picking up every little piece of paper with writing on it, putting it into bags, and storing it into the closet.

Since my dad is a hoarder too, I can relate. Unlike Miller though, I’m probably not as generous to
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Growing up as the child of severe hoarders, the author of "Coming Clean: A Memoir" describes in great detail what that was like for her.

In her narrative voice that felt like a conversation, she revealed how her home was not just an embarrassment that she had to keep secret, but that sometimes the house was festering with the detritus of the clutter until pipes burst, mold grew, rats proliferated throughout, and at one time, a homeless person was living in their attic, unbeknownst to them.

One sid
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biographies
I really wanted to like this book because the topic of extreme hoarding fascinates me. How does one grow up in a filthy, dangerous environment and survive intact? Unfortunately, the writing and tone felt inconsistent and, therefore confusing. Here's an example: The author states clearly that her family cannot afford the tuition increase at her college and will need to drop out. In the next chapter her mother is sending her to the college's summer program abroad(!).
No explanation.
At many p
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was simultaneously hard to read and hard to put down.

Hard to read because the author's depiction of the filth and neglect she grew up in is rendered in agonizing detail. The family's trials and tribulations are also quite harrowing - and all the more-so when you realize that this book is non-fiction. Kimberly Rae Miller lived through this.

Sometimes I had to put the book down and walk away.

But I would quickly come back. Miller tells her story with simplicity, poise and humor, and she h
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A so-horrifying-it-seems-impossible memoir that has a ton of heart and a heroine you root for with each passing year. Miller grew up in squalor with one, then two, hoarder parents, and does an exceptional job sharing her story with equal parts stoicism, compassion and (eventually) anger, trying to explain her parents to the readers while not quite coming to terms with them herself. Hoarding seem unfathomable to those not acquainted with it (aka, me), and by the last chapter, I was so, so relieve ...more
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir, written by Kimberly Rae Miller, was a 'mixed bag' for me! Ms.Miller wrote this memoir about growing up with a hoarder.. her father. It seemed to me that writing about her life with her parents was a sort of therapy for her and I could understand her need to do that. Throughout the book, she related her feelings of shame and embarrassment over living in the way she was forced to live. She wrote of almost needing to live two parallel lives while growing up... one life at school, where ...more
I listened to the audiobook, finding myself neutral as to whether there should've been a professional narrator hired instead of the author reading the book herself; her voice seemed a bit juvenile to me, but for large parts of the story, she was a girl during the episodes.

As for the story itself ... be prepared for a real rollercoaster as just when I thought things were looking up, a crisis would hit! Her father becomes so completely out-of-control with his hoarding that the place goes beyond ju
Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen
This book was really, really, really, really, really, really, really hard to read. Not because of the text itself, but because of the similarities of experience. A friend who hadn't yet read the book passed this on to me, because she wasn't going to have time to read it yet. I didn't read the liner notes. The title and the cover made me think it was going to be a romantic fiction of some sort. I opened up to the first page to start reading and, no, not romantic fiction at all. Rather, a book abo ...more
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: august, nonfiction, 2013
This is a memoir by a young woman whose parents are hoarders and who grew up in homes nearly uninhabitable due to all the pile-up. She lived the experience of hoarding before there was really a term for it. The story is harrowing and fascinating.

Miller, however, is not a terribly skilled writer. She tells more than showing, her writing is often clumsy and awkward, she breezes past important plot points without offering much detail or insight, leaving the reader unsure why she is reading what sh
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure and to curb possibly attacking comments on this review:

I'm mentally ill. I'm on SSDI, take meds and go to therapy. Hoarding has been one of my minor issues. My father is mentally ill, but refuses to acknowledge it or do anything about it. He also has minor hoarding issues. We're both more of the buy a lot of useless items, collect them and never throw them out. I've gotten better with mine. My father....well, he claims to not be a "collector")

That being said, Ms. Miller's parents
Emma Sea
Aug 05, 2016 rated it liked it
The writing is engaging enough, but Miller didn't bring anything to the subgenre I haven't read before. Side note: I can't believe memoirs by adult children recovering from the childhood trauma of hoarding parents is a subgenre now. ...more
J.P. Willson
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a difficult read. Not because it was difficult to read, it was very well written. The author should be proud of both what she has produced here, and the self-discipline it took to recount this rather tragic and I would say life-altering account. I could not have come through such a thing unscathed for sure, if at all, and granted neither has the author, that becomes more and more apparent as the book progresses. She herself became an enabler without question but I truly believe anyone f ...more
Cait Ní Cheallaigh
At first, I was not enjoying this book at all. I am the descendent of hoarders and a recovering-hoarder myself. I wouldn't even call it hoarding, per se; I have a high tolerance for disorder. But my father is a hoarder, my mother gave up trying to keep it all in order, and I grew up in and around my father's piles. That I've even put this into writing I would think is taboo enough. I couldn't believe Miller could publish a book about this and maintain a relationship with her parents, still. That ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: august-2013
This was quite a revealing book into the life of a child growing up with parents who are hoarders. At times her harrowing experiences of living in filth with rats, bugs, maggots, and other assorted circumstances were enough to turn one's stomach.

Through it all however, the author claims to have and still love her parents. In a way this book is a tribute to how her spirit and that of many others with similar experiences sill managed to grow up and lead productive lives.

The only issue I had was w
Angela Risner
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Kimberly Rae Miller writes beautifully about growing up as the only child of hoarders. Her father is the main hoarder, collecting papers, magazines, and other items. They take over all surfaces in the house. Her mother, herself the daughter of a hoarder, is able to overlook this for the most part.

Kimberly, however, knows that her family is different. She is ashamed of their living space and cannot invite friends to come over. She has the carpool parents or friends drop her off at a fake address
Kim is an ordinary girl who lives with hoarders. In particular,her dearing Father cannot throw anything away,as a result their house is full of used paper scattered around. Mold on food,rat infestations,furniture ruined,and cluttered places is enough to drive anyone insane. Yet Kim adores her Father,she just wishes that he finds help to cure this problem.

While her mother tries to suffice the hoarded life,she questions if she wants to stay in the marriage if her husband does not change his ways.
Rebecca McPhedran
A heartbreaking memoir about the author’s struggle with her parents hoarding. Her descriptions are clear and vivid. You as the reader struggle with her feelings of love toward her parents, as well as her anger at how uninhabitable their living situation is.

She talks about her feelings of guilt and shame whenever her friends wanted a play date when she was growing up. Miller is honest about her own struggles with PTSD from her own childhood. Her voice is refreshing, and she doesn’t pretend to ha
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This story was so clearly emotional for the author to write, very upsetting to read at times, and absolutely BANANAS. My heart hurts for this woman's childhood, but I was glad to read of the progress her family has made at the end. Just, whew. It is a ride. ...more
Paula DeBoard
Husband: Can we please stop watching TV shows about hoarders?

Me. Fine. *picks up book about hoarders instead*


I have a complicated relationship with this topic, as even small amounts of stuff (clutter, lack of purpose or pattern) makes me very anxious. I could feel Miller's anxiety oozing from each page of this memoir as she dealt with her parents' hoarding issues. This book feels like a good antidote to hoarding TV shows, as it illustrates through one family's experience that this isn't an is
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Kimberly Rae Miller is a writer and actress living in New York City. Her writing on healthy living has been published on Conde Nast’s blog network, Social Workout, Yahoo’s women’s network Shine, and in various magazines. She also contributes entertainment news to CBS Radio and CBS New York. In 2010, Kim was featured in Katharine Sise’s breakthrough career guide Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide fo ...more

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“hoarders tend to be perfectionists, that each item they collect is one crucial part of an ideal world they are ever creating for themselves.” 7 likes
“Maybe if I endure all my pain now, I could be happy when I am older.” 5 likes
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