Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Review of Coming Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller

I found out about this wonderful book through a Kindle offer but ended up checking it out of my local library. I like to read memoirs and this one did not disappoint.

I have great respect for the author, Kimberly Rae Miller, as she told the poignant tale of growing up with two parents who had a compulsive hoarding problem. It was not just a case of a cluttered house, but filth and shame as she tried to keep others from knowing her secret. The thing about it is that her love for her parents shines the whole way through the book. Miller adhered to a Biblical principle, “honor thy father and mother,” and her outcome was blessed because she did so.

Kim grew up in the New York City area as an only child. Her mother was Jewish and her Dad was Catholic. Trauma in his own childhood with alcoholic parents led her Dad into an insatiable need to hang onto all kinds of papers. He loved to gather information as well and constantly listened to NPR. Though the papers were mostly not going to be used or needed, nevertheless he felt a compunction to hang onto them, along with all kinds of other junk. Her mother did not have a happy childhood either, and ended up cut off by her mother, who always favored her sister. In spite of her anger over her husband’s hoarding, Kim’s Mom comforted her pain by ordering lots and lots of things online. It grew to the point that her mother only had just a tiny space for where she slept on her mattress each night.

Kim told of how they got burned out of one house and ended up moving from one apartment to another as she grew up, running from chaos and filth. She made some great friends in school in spite of it. These friends helped and did not abandon her when her “secret” got out. In spite of the mess and confusion, Kim was a go-getter and pushed herself to make it to prestigious Emerson College in New England. After her freshman year, she lost her financial aid package through a technicality and became desperate. During Kim’s own lowest point, her Mom sacrificed in helping her find a way to continue there.

Once she left her parents’ home, Kim was overcome by the horror of what she had gone through as a child. But she never abandoned her parents. Instead, she came time and time again to help them clean out, and try to make a fresh start. Each time she did it drained her, but she pushed through it anyway. Her mother suffered severe health problems and nearly died, but Kim let her mother know that she must keep on fighting to get well because she needed her. Her mother needed a clean place to come home to recuperate. Kim realized her parents needed help, and in compassion she shelved her pride and secret to even more people in asking help from them to clean her parents home.

The hoarding lifestyle she was surrounded by gave Miller an almost obsessive need to keep her own home neat and tidy. Part of her own therapy was writing down her story, and it was one which her parents fully supported. When her Dad read the manuscript, he tearfully apologized for all she suffered growing up in utter chaos. The best part of this memoir is that she still loves and supports her parents. At the end, they made tremendous strides in cleaning up their act. Kim found happiness also, but I won’t say more on that.

It was like a breath of fresh air to find someone who was not willing to jump on the wagon to blame someone else for their problems, to find someone who actually was grateful for their parents even if her parents were not perfect people. I commend the author for her bravery in telling this story in a way that could make the reader feel good about honoring and respecting their parents. I really enjoyed this book and maybe now you will also. You can find out more about Kimberly Rae Miller at her blog:



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Filed under character-building books, family relationships, honoring your parents, memoir, parenting, Uncategorized

Review of Take Me with You, Kindle Edition, by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Just finished this satisfying story which I read on my Kindle, based on the life of a recovering alcoholic and his “chance” encounter with two sons of an alcoholic mechanic. August Shroeder, a divorced high school science teacher who lost his only child, is on his way west in his RV when it breaks down. He stops at a mechanic’s shop, and finds that the mechanic also has a problem. The owner of the auto repair shop is facing jail time for DUI’s and has nowhere for his two sons (Seth and Henry) to go, except foster care. He strikes up a conversation with August and told him that he had a question that August would think he was crazy for asking.

The mechanic believes, and rightly so, that August is a good guy, and asks him to take his boys with him on his trip out West. Henry has not talked since he came from foster care the last time his Dad was in jail. Seth is a caretaker, typical of children of alcoholics. The rest of the story details their trip and the years that subsequently follow.

I don’t want to give the ending away but will just say I wish it had ended a bit differently. I was happy for August but wasn’t completely satisfied that it ended the way it should have. But that being said, it was a sweet story, clean, and it taught lessons about “being in the moment,” and coming to reconcile with the events that happen in our lives. I felt myself really pulling especially for Henry, who was an underdog in the story. I also liked reading about August’s pet dog Woody and his immediate affection for the boys when the RV broke down.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 27 published and forthcoming books, and she is highly rated in her Amazon reviews. I would give this book 4 stars. In the future, I probably will read another one of her books, most likely “When I Found You” which has a 4 1/2 star rating overall. I got the book on a special rate from Kindle, but it is only $4.99 now to download.

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Filed under family relationships, recovering alcoholics