Kimberly Rae Miller, the author of the new memoir Coming Clean, used to pray for three things as a child: new dolls, a best friend and for her house to burn down.

It’s not that Miller was a budding arsonist, exactly. But her parents were hoarders, and the house--rat-infested, flea-ridden and filled to the brim with piles of garbage, newspapers and rotting food--was the Everest that kept Miller from living a normal life.

These days, hoarder is a household term, thanks to A&E’s reality show about the disorder (and E. L. Doctorow’s novel Homer & Langley, for the highbrow set). But when Miller was growing up in 1980s suburban Long Island, all she knew was that her family was different, and she’d do anything to keep it a secret.

Luckily, Miller--now a successful writer with an immaculate apartment--is finally ready to tell her story.

Coming Clean is shocking and painful, with horrifying details that had us clinging to our can of Lysol. But it’s also full of warmth and compassion, in some ways a tribute to Miller’s deeply imperfect parents.

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