Monday, February 01, 2010

Fiction Review: Life on the Refrigerator Door

I know I just announced my leave of absence last week, but I had to write about the remarkable book I just finished. Thanks to Kim at Page After Page for her review and recommendation that led me to request this one from the library. When I decided to take a break from Book By Book, I told myself that I would still occasionally write a review if I came across something that really knocked my socks off…but I didn’t expect that to happen so soon!

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers is a unique novel, to put it mildly. It’s told entirely in notes left between a mother and her 15-year old daughter. Mom is an obstetrician and a single mom, working odd hours and struggling to handle it all. Claire is busy with her own life, running to school, hanging out with friends, and feeling her way through a relationship with a new boyfriend.

Claire and her mom are often running in different directions, so they leave lots of notes for each other. Their notes run the gamut from the mundane details of everyday life – grocery lists, requests for money, scheduling difficulties – to expressing deep feelings to each other as they struggle with unforeseen challenges.


I had to go. One of my patients delivered two and a half months early. January is a horrible month to have a preemie…

When’s your presentation? Isn’t it coming up soon?

Let’s do something tonight. I feel like I haven’t seen you for days.

Love you –


-Could you get some more apples?

Hi, Mom!

I can’t do tonight. I have to go to Emma’s to study. James is coming too and we’re all working on the presentation for tomorrow.

I made some pasta with a cheese sauce so there’s no milk left. I didn’t get apples yet.

Hope work was fun. How’s last night’s baby?


A novel told through notes on the fridge sounds like it would be light and superficial, but this book has a surprising depth of emotions. At one point, I was crying so hard I could hardly see the words on the page, but I wiped my eyes and kept reading. I finished the book in one afternoon but felt as if I had lived through their experiences with them. Life on the Refrigerator Door provides an extraordinary and unique look into the complex relationship between a mother and daughter. Thanks for the great recommendation, Kim!

220 pages, Harper (an imprint of HarperCollins)


  1. Great review Sue! You are a much better reviewer than I am. :)

  2. This looks so sweet, and it definitely comes highly recommended if you are willing to come off hiatus to post about it!

  3. Loved your review! Just but the book on hold at the library!

  4. Sounds so cute :-) thanks for hte review!