Wednesday, August 14, 2013

 by Kimberly Rae Miller

Her father really loved stuff. Paper, pens, broken computers, radios, unused junk stuffed in boxes would cover the entire house leaving barely enough space to walk through. Some of the rooms (the kitchen and the bathrooms) were unusable. The squalor, the bugs, the absolute mess was what Kimberly Rae Miller grew up in on Long Island. Nobody outside knew what went on inside behind closed doors. It was a humiliating secret that Miller had promised her mother to never tell anyone.
The word "hoarder" is well-known today but back in the 1980s there was no designation for it. As a child, Miller knew there was something wrong, that nobody else could possibly live the way they did. It took quite an emotional toll on her. Yet, through all of this dysfunction, Miller never stopped loving her parents.
Coming Clean is a very fast read (two days for me). The book is extremely well-written and very hard to put down. What is very interesting is the fact that Miller's father and mother seemed normal to other people who met them. When they were away from the garbage, they acted like anybody else, laughing, talking, having a great time. This behavior would retreat the minute they walked back inside their home. For some, it may be difficult to wade through the highly-detailed descriptions. It's truly horrible but Miller rises above the embarrassment with no blaming of her parents. She's dead honest yet humanizes their painful story.