Book Review: Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

Friday 15 January 2016

Life on the Refrigerator Door
Alice Kuipers
Genre(s): Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young adult
Published: July 30th 2015
Pages: 240
Rating: 3 stars

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.

I'll admit, I picked this up mainly because it was short and the idea about telling a story solely through notes on a fridge door intrigued me. I feel like novels written in ways other than traditional prose can be hit or miss, and Life on the Refrigerator Door didn't fail to prove me right.

While it was both a short and simple book with not a lot of room for character explanation, I did get a sense of both Claire and her mum as individuals. Claire came across as bubbly and dramatic in a way only a teenager can, and her mum came across as a no-nonsense workaholic. 

It didn't take me long to get through this, in fact I actually tried to drag it out in order to formulate thoughts for a review, which wasn't surprising. A lot of the notes were just that, so the idea worked very well. That being said, I would have liked some to be a bit longer (nothing was really longer than a page) in order to establish things a bit more and pad things out.

The idea behind Life on the Refrigerator Door was good, but I felt that the execution could have been better. Perhaps weaving the notes into prose would have worked out better and told more of a story, rather than a play by play of Claire and her mother's days.

I don't regret picking this up; it was an interesting read. Just not a great one.

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