Actress and writer Miller chronicles her father's obsessive need to collect things.
"Every night before I went to sleep…[I asked] for the things I wanted most in life: new dolls, a best friend, and for my house to burn down," writes the author in this gripping, graphic re-telling of her childhood growing up with a father obsessed with hoarding. A fire would destroy the rats, fleas, piles of junk, newspapers, clothes, cracked picture frames, broken radios and unopened boxes of stuff that filled every square inch of their house. When fire did break out and all was lost, including Miller's pets, she felt nothing but guilt (her pets weren't supposed to die), which quickly turned to anger as their new house soon became consumed by her father's relentless need to collect. She was unable to invite friends over since, within a few years, the new place "started to resemble the remnants at the bottom of a garbage can." A broken boiler and broken pipes created a soggy mess of the entire house, where only one of three bathrooms worked and, then, only intermittently. "The downstairs had become a relative swamp ground…the inches of trash would squish beneath our feet, creating an unsteady terrain,” writes Miller, and the house was filled with "floor-to-ceiling piles of boxes and bags of paper and knickknacks, things that had been purchased and put down and long forgotten." Despite all the filth, Miller knew her parents were "doting, fallible people that gave me everything they had, and a whole lot more." Eventually, Miller was able to place a name on her father's condition and slowly learned that it was OK to let close friends know about the situations she'd endured.
An engrossing, sympathetic exploration of living with hoarder parents.