Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I went to the store. See inside the fridge. I watered the plants. I cleaned out Peter's cage. I tidied the sitting room. And the kitchen. And I did the washing up.

I'm going to bed.

Your live-in servant,


Life on the Refrigerator Door is told exclusively through notes exchanged by Claire and her mother, Elizabeth, during the course of a life-altering year. Their story builds to an emotional crescendo when Elizabeth is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Stunningly sad but ultimately uplifting, this is a clever, moving, and original portrait of the relationship between a daughter and mother. It is about how we live our lives constantly rushing, and never making time for those we love. It is also an elegy to how much can be said in so few words, if only we made the time to say them.

A new edition of this simultaneously heartbreaking and heart-warming novel by Alice Kuipers.

Life on the refrigerator door was sent to me to review. I knew nothing about it before it arrived. I choose not to read the blurb and just go on the title and the cover.

This is about a mother and daughter, both have incredibly busy lives - Claire a fifteen year old girl and her mum as a baby delivery nurse. The only communication they seem to have is through notes left on the fridge. These are the notes that form this debut novel. These notes are meaningless most of the time, ranging from being late home to grabbing some shopping. Except one day, one particular note turns both of their lives upside down forever.

The book is very short, it is just over 200 pages long, but each page is only a note, these range in lengths but made the book incredibly easy to read. I finished it in a couple of hours.

There are a few issues I had with this book and that's the reason I am only giving the book 3*, first of all, I know that Claire is only fifteen years old, however the way she behaved at times in this book drove me mad. She screams spoilt brat right out of the page, she is self centred and thinks about no one except herself. I found it very hard to connect to her and acutally disliked her for the majority of the novel. The other thing I have a problem with is the mother - she is meant to be in the medical industry but then seems to know little about medical problems. I also think that she came across very irresponsible, she does not have a mobile phone and then moans at her daughter when she doesn't pick up hers. She also communicates largely by notes to her daughter all the time? This novel if nothing else illustrates the importance of talk in families.

I do think that there are very strong messages that come through in this novel, however they are not as moving as I would have thought and they seem to just catch up with the reader towards the end.

I do enjoy reading books written in different formats and for me I enjoyed reading the series of notes, whether this was the best format to choose for a subject so emotional I am still unsure about. Personally I didn't find the novel heartbreaking or bringing a tear to my eye and I think this was because there was lack of description in the novel. This is something that would not be necessary in note form.

The author did leave a lot for the reader to fill in, not all notes followed on from one another and you were filing the blanks yourself. I also quite enjoyed this aspect of the novel, however I think that the novel may have benefited at times from some narration.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

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