Sunday, April 21, 2013

Life on the Refrigerator Door - Alice Kuipers

Claire and her mother are running out of time, but they don't know it. Not yet. Claire is wrapped up with the difficulties of her bourgeoning adulthood--boys, school, friends, identity; Claire's mother, a single mom, is rushed off her feet both at work and at home. They rarely find themselves in the same room at the same time, and it often seems that the only thing they can count on are notes to each other on the refrigerator door. When home is threatened by a crisis, their relationship experiences a momentous change. Forced to reevaluate the delicate balance between their personal lives and their bond as mother and daughter, Claire and her mother find new love and devotion for one another deeper than anything they had ever imagined.


This story was told entirely told through small notes the mother and daughter left each other on the fridge.  I thought it was an interesting medium, and overall a touching story (but I am biased when it comes to the subject material.  I don't want to give too many spoilers, but it deals with cancer, something I've had a lot of experience with in the past few years.)  While it was a nice enough story, I found their relationship baffling.  The mother is a single-mother and a doctor, so it seems feasible that she's busy, but I can't imagine a mom not seeing her kid for multiple days in a row.  It seems like almost their entire conversations are done through these notes, not actually face to face or on the phone.  I don't come from a family like that, so maybe it isn't that strange, but it made me very frustrated!  What kind of mother doesn't know where her fifteen year-old kid is?  At times the story felt a bit contrived.  It felt like the story was trying to teach us a lesson, rather than letting us pick up on the subtleties and come to our own understanding.  Like even doctors get cancer, or are afraid/too busy to get their check ups.  Everyone should get check ups.  I thought that the story did a good job of showing the mother as a human, not a superhero, but unfortunately because the whole story was told through fridge notes, this came out as she leaned on her daughter.  Again I have experience in this matter, and I have learned a lot about the various strengths and flaws of my family through the experience, but the mom seems to stop being a mom in a lot of ways.  When a parent has cancer, yes you grow up quickly, but you don't take over all responsibilities.

Overall, it is a sweet story and a very quick read, but the book just tried too hard.

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