Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers (YA)

life_on_the_refrigerator_doorHave you ever left a note for a family member on the refrigerator door? Most of us have. It’s a central location, and most people go to the fridge on a regular basis. You can pretty much count on them seeing the note.

Have you ever thought of writing a book consisting solely of fridge door notes? I thought not. It’s almost impossible to imagine. Almost impossible. Alice Kuipers has done it to great effect in the YA book I want to share with you today.

Title: Life on the Refrigerator Door

Author: Alice Kuipers

Publisher: Toronto: HarperCollins, 2007

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction

Audience Age: 12 to 18

Themes/topics: mother-daughter relationships, communication, death

Opening Sentences:

Hey Claire-Bear,
milk
apples
bananas
avocados
onions
potatoes
tomatoes
mushrooms
carrots and rabbit food for Peter
ground beef
bread
juice—you choose

Synopsis: From those innocuous beginnings grows a correspondence – and a heart-wrenching story – told solely through notes left on a fridge door. The mother and her daughter, Claire, are having trouble connecting in person, and so all the mundane and the profound experiences of their lives are shared in their notes.

Shopping lists give way to typical teen angst about boys and friends and homework, interspersed with a growing awareness that all is not well with Mom. There are more and more notes mentioning doctor’s appointments, and treatments. Mom and Claire deal with Mom’s cancer through notes on the refrigerator door. The ending will tear at your heart, and will give you hope.

About the Author: Alice Kuipers was born and raised in England, but now lives and writes in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Her latest book, 40 Things I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You, won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Young Adult Literature in 2013. She has a fabulous blog and website filled with writing tips and other things, even a writing tips iPhone App!

Here’s an article about Alice from Canada’s Chatelaine magazine. Alice talks about Life on the Refrigerator Door on her website.

Enhancing the Reading Experience:  British theatre director Amy Draper has adapted Life on the Refrigerator Door for the stage, and had a successful limited run in early April 2014. You can read about it here.

The National Cancer Institute has a guide for teens coping with a parent’s cancer, called When Your Parent Has Cancer.

Availability: Readily available. Prepare to be moved.

2 Comments

  1. Well, Wow! What a unique idea! and so fitting for today’s communication styles. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a brilliant way to write a YA novel! I would read this immediately ifI weren’t so weepy (I cry at commercials sometimes…remember those Kleenex commercials in the 80s that played old songs like “Are You Lonesome Tonight”? Made me bawl).

    I think I mentioned this before but I love that you feature Canadian authors!

    Happy Friday, Beth!