Sunday, September 09, 2007
Life on the Refrigerator Door
Alice Kuipers' first novel, Life on the Refrigerator Door, begins as a slice of life familiar to most of us, notes left on the refrigerator. Fifteen-year-old Claire is in that difficult year. She's a fifteen-year-old, busy with friends, falling in love for the first time, babysitting. She's also responsible for some of the grocery shopping, cleaning house, and taking care of Peter, the rabbit.
At 43, Claire's Mom is a single mother and a busy obstetrician. The two seldom see each other, and communicate through notes. In a short book that covers a time period just over a year, the reader laughs and acknowledges their typical mother-daughter "communications." It's regrettable that so many people have such busy lives that they don't have time to sit down together, and only meet in passing. For Claire, and her Mom, it becomes even more tragic when "Mom" finds a lump in her breast.
Kuipers' poignant story allows the reader to feel for her characters. We observe "Mom's" frustration, worries about work, her feeling that she's lost control, and, finally, her concern for Claire. We watch a fifteen-year-old grow up, passing through the emotions of her first love, growing in responsibility and admiration for her mother. And, we observe the stages they go through when it's discovered that Claire's Mom has breast cancer.
By the end of Kuipers' book, with its originial format, the reader is truly moved by Life on the Refrigerator Door.
Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers. HarperCollins Publishers, ©2007, ISBN 978-0-06-137049-6 (hardcover), 220p.