Life on the Refrigerator Door – Alice Kuipers

Don’t judge a book by its cover. How many times have I heard that? After reading this book, I vow not to do that again. I picked up this book during a quick trip to the library. Its innocent pink cover and small stature didn’t hint at anything particularly emotion-provoking. Boy was I wrong!

What The Book Is About 

This book is written as a series of letters on a refrigerator door that take you through a typical mother-daughter relationship. The mother, Elizabeth, is a single mom that delivers babies. The daughter, Claire, is a typical fifteen year old engrossed in a life of going to school, babysitting, and self-discovery. Elizabeth and Claire hardly ever get to spend time with each other given their busy schedules, hence the back and forth notes. The books starts off innocent enough with Elizabeth asking Claire to run various errands, Claire updating her mom on where she’ll be or what she’ll be doing, and the two of them making (and apologizing for breaking) promises to spend time together. Then along comes the onset of a medical condition that completely changes the tone of the letters being exchanged between the two.

My Thoughts

I am extremely close with my mom – she’s my mom, sister, and best friend all in one package.  When I saw that this book was going to explore the relationship between a mother and her daughter, that hooked me.  I’m a sucker for those types of books.  I think that what struck me the most is how ordinary exchanges and everyday life can get in the way of developing meaningful relationships with those that we love the most.  
I immediately plopped myself in Claire’s shoes and imagined my mom in Elizabeth’s.  Oddly enough, my mom is a single mom as well so I learned first hand her struggle of trying to keep all balls in the air by herself.  I found it easy to relate to Claire when she learns of her mother’s illness.  The immediate need to want to take care of her mother is something that I would have done.  It’s interesting to see the roles reverse a bit where at the beginning, Claire is the one that doesn’t want to share everything about her life with her mom and then when Elizabeth is faced with her illness, she keeps as much as she can away from her daughter.
I see a lot of Elizabeth in my mom where as she simply wouldn’t want to cause any alarm or concern if she doesn’t need to and of course I see much of Claire in me where I just wouldn’t want my mom to go through anything alone and without support.  I think what happens is mothers can sometimes lose sight of the fact that their kids can be a lot stronger than they think.  They don’t want to cause any worry to their children but don’t realize that what they end up doing is snatching away moments that can make their relationship that much stronger.
This light read is recommended for anyone (who like me) enjoys exploring the mother-daughter relationship and its complexities.



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