‘Life on the Refrigerator Door’ by Alice Kuipers

The professor for my Creative Writing course assigned the text ‘Life on the Refrigerator Door’ by Alice Kuipers to be read within the upcoming weeks. Prior to this book being listed on the course syllabus as a required text for my course, I was totally unfamiliar with Kuipers and her work. I had some spare time yesterday afternoon to work ahead in regards to my readings for school, and so I decided to begin reading ‘Life on the Refrigerator Door’. I completed the entire text in one sitting without putting it down, and it is one of the best books I have read to date.

The text itself contains a simple writing style, yet it is the story and the characters of the novel that make it such a compelling and emotional read. The entire text is a collection of letters between a daughter, Claire, and her mother. Such letters are posted on their refrigerator door. Claire’s mother is nurse and works incredibly inconsistent hours, so as a means to communicate she and Claire converse through notes left on their fridge in order to remain in touch with each other throughout a day.

The opening letters of the book are rather ordinary, and they display typical conversation between a mother and her daughter. As the book progresses, however, it becomes apparent that Claire’s mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the letters that compose the latter half of the text become much more serious and realistic. Claire’s mother undergoes a lumpectomy, a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, though eventually succumbs to her illness, leaving Claire to deal with conflicting emotions as to why her mother was taken from her at a mere fifteen years of age. The story of this book deeply resonated with me as my own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer two times and also endured a lumpectomy, a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. My mother beat her illness, but the emotions Claire experiences as she watches her mother become more and more ill were certainly a reminder of the emotions I was experiencing when my own mother was sick.

I highly recommend reading this novel, and I am going to seek out more of Kuipers’ work. This text is a wonderful and moving read, and I am glad I had the opportunity to explore it.

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