Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Book Review: Life On The Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

Life On The Refrigerator Door - Alice Kuipers

Claire is a teenager, growing up with a single, hardworking mother, whose job in the natal ward of the hospital keeps her away from home at irregular hours.
As a way of keeping in touch, Claire and her mother leave notes for each other on the refrigerator door. Containing everything from mundane shopping lists, requests for money, and reminders about looking after their pet rabbit Peter, to important events that are approaching (such as school tests and invitations from friends), the notes are one of the only forms of communication that the duo have with one another.
It isn’t until Claire’s mother finds a lump in her breast that she and Claire make more of an effort to spend time with one another. But even then, daily life gets in the way, especially when Claire meets her first love, and begins to mature as a young adult.
As Mom’s sickness grows, the routines of their lives become formulated around trips to the doctor, relationship woes, and selfish ‘mother-daughter’ fights, but the notes on the refrigerator continue, even if their tone starts to become disheartening.
Even though Mom’s cancer is slowly making her physically weak, Claire and Mom’s love for one another only strengthens, and the two do their best to cope with Mom’s illness together.

What I gained from reading this book:
Rarely home at the same time, due to work, babysitting or school commitments, Claire and Mom are always rushing around, never having enough time to spend with one another. It isn’t until Mom is diagnosed with breast cancer that the duo realise that their time with one another is going to be dramatically cut short, and they begin to make more time for family. This is a very familiar scenario, and one that is common in most busy households- everyone is always rushing around and thinking of themselves and what they have to do during the day, rather than focusing on the time that they could be spending with loved ones. Most people take for granted the fact that when they get home at night, their family will be there and waiting for them.
In this novel, Claire learns the hard way that this is not always the case.
Even though the events in Life On The Refrigerator Door occur over one year, Claire and Mom’s time is still cut short- their busy schedules dictate their lives and they rarely have the chance to sit and talk to one another, until it’s almost too late. This novel serves as a reminder that we should always try to make time for our loved ones, and tell them that we love them, because who knows what could happen tomorrow?

If people are looking for a quick but heartfelt read, this is it. Because each note has it’s own page in the book, and many of the notes are short, readers are able to quickly read their way through the novel. But even though it doesn’t take long to read, the storyline is just as sad and thought provoking as any you’d find in a longer novel.

One of the problems with this story being told in notes format is that the reader is not privy to the events that occur outside of the notes that Claire and her mother leave for each other. Although we, as the readers, are happy when the busy duo finally spends time together, it means that we don’t know what’s happening in their lives unless they mention what has happened in their subsequent notes. Of course, these comments won’t be in full detail just for our benefit, so an air of mystery surrounds the characters’ actions and personal thoughts (although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

Rating: 7 out of 10

Genre: Teenage Fiction

Recommended for: People who may need a reminder that spending time with family and loved ones is important. The things you take for granted can disappear when you least expect it.

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

Life on the Refrigerator Door

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