I had a really hard time deciding how to rate this book. There are things I absolutely loved and things I really didn’t. It has been a long time since I’ve felt so polarized about a book.
I loved Miller’s personal story, especially when she was young. Having grown up with anxiety, a dysfunctional family with grandparents who were hoarders, and a father with Schizophrenia, I related to the author and her plight. I know what it means to try to help family members over and over again just to see them fall back into dysfunction and mental illness. I also get why people need to walk away. Some of her descriptions are so vivid, the reader is put right in the middle of her mess. When she talks about rats in her room and how they gave her dog away to avoid people coming over the house, I was equally as scared, appalled, and emotionally wrecked as she must have been living through it.
On the other hand, I thought the storytelling uneven. It took a while for me to really invest in the book and then by the end, after her mother is in the hospital, I thought the book turned repetitive. How many ways can the author describe cleaning up her parent’s house or apartment? There were moments of complete shock as well. At one point, her benevolent, happy father hits her in the face when a friend is visiting. The scene came off as a little too contrived. There was little leading up to this drastic change in her father’s character. He’d been in an accident and depressed, but before and after this incidence, violence by her father is never mentioned.
I liked this book. At times I liked it a lot, but the uneven narration and repetition left me unsure of how to ultimately rate it. It is worth your time, both for the story and the insight into children living with parents suffering from mental illness. Grab a copy.
If you liked Coming Clean, check out my story, Twelve Months of Awkward Moments. While fictionalized, it is based on my experiences with anxiety and family mental illness. “Dani can’t wait for senior year at college. A straight-A scholar whose anxiety is a daily struggle, being awkward, introverted, and studious has become a way of life. She vows this year will be different. It’s time to move beyond her comfort zone, but that’s not easy. Dani’s wild roommate and handsome best friend hate each other; her crazy family won’t leave her alone; and a new job forces her to be social. Unfortunately, when college romance finally calls, Dani is unable to answer thanks to a stalker who has her all tied up.” amzn.to/2I6SMFj