Life on the Refrigerator Door

Life on the Refrigerator Door leapt into my mind as a title one afternoon when I came home and found a note from my boyfriend. In six words an intimacy about our relationship was revealed. I wondered how a novelist would tell a story with the limit of only be able to use notes – how much could I tell about my characters with hardly any words? The challenge interested me. It wasn’t until a friend of mine lost her mother to breast cancer that the challenge of writing the book became more than that. All of a sudden, I had characters – Claire and Elizabeth – and a storyline. The book was urgent, important and I loved writing it. I cried when I got to the end. Partly because I wanted it to end differently but knew it couldn’t. It is a book about running out of time. Partly because I knew I’d never write another book with those characters in and I’d enjoyed working with them so much.

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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.
Heartfelt, touching, and unforgettable, Life on the Refrigerator Door is a glimpse into the lives of mothers and daughters everywhere. In this deeply touching novel told through a series of notes written from a loving mother and her devoted fifteen-year-old daughter, debut author Alice Kuipers deftly captures the impenetrable fabric that connects mothers and daughters throughout the world. Moving and rich with emotion, Life on the Refrigerator Door delivers universal lessons about love in a wonderfully simple and poignant narrative.

Awards and Accolades

  • A New York Public Library “Book for the Teen Age”
  • Winner of the Redbridge Teenage Book Award (UK)
  • Winner of the Sheffield Libraries Choice Book Award (UK)
  • Winner of the Saskatchewan First Book Award (Canada)
  • Winner of the Lieutenant Governor’s 30 Below Arts Award (Canada)
  • Winner of the Grand Prix de Viarmes (France)
  • Winner of the Livrentête Prize, young adult category (France)
  • Winner of the Aficion’Ados prize (France)
  • Winner of the Sweyne Park School Year 7 Book Award (UK)
  • Shortlisted for the Coventry Inspiration Book Award (UK)
  • Shortlisted for the Oxfordshire Book Award (UK)
  • Shortlisted for the Salt Lake City County Library System Reader’s Choice Award (US)
  • Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal (UK)

Press Reviews

“In Alice Kuipers’ deft hands, a mother and daughter’s exchange of notes on a refrigerator becomes a metaphor for the evanescence of life. Call it the poetry of daily routine. Without warning, lists of groceries, appointments, and reminders transform into a meditation on the lost opportunities in our lives: the overlooked clues of fear and distress from our loved ones; and the wrenching aftershock when we recognize — too late — what’s forever gone. In Kuipers’ utterly original debut, the deceptively simple is charged in equal part, with technical dazzle, heartfelt humour, and emotional truth. Wow.”
— Allan Stratton, author of Chanda’s Secrets
“It is a very original and touching treatment of a familiar theme and it deserves to do very well.”
— Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat
“Understated but moving… the result is tender and insightful.”
— The Bookseller

“Bittersweet, funny and achingly real… a strong, emotional reminder about the importance of loved ones, even through times of unceasing complications and challenges.”
— Publishers Weekly
“… it will leave you thinking about it long after you’ve closed the pages… a shining example of how much we can say in so few words.”
— Winnipeg Free Press
“In few words, well-chosen, [Kuipers] addresses both the dynamic of a mother/daughter relationship and the profound effect of a life threatening disease on a family. Such a task by a lesser talent would have required a much larger volume.”
— The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon)
“Guaranteed to make you cry.”
— Sunday Express (UK)
“If a book can ever make us realize life is precious, this is the one.”
— The Oklahoman
“A heart-warming tale that will leave you appreciating the simple things in life.”
— Daily Record (Scotland)
“The tone is immediate [and] real… You’ll read it in an hour and remember it long afterwards.”
— The Irish Times
“… outstandingly original and clever… often unbearably moving.”
— Scotland on Sunday
“A heart-wrenching tale of a mother daughter relationship and the impact of breast cancer, Kuipers’ debut proves that sometimes the most simple writing techniques – i.e. a narrative that uses brief notes – can stir the biggest emotions.”
– Big Issue in the North
“… the style [Kuipers] has adopted is refreshingly new and different… You can read this book in an hour but I doubt a full-length novel could have delivered the emotional hit that Kuipers has achieved in this study of the struggle and contradictions in modern family life.”
— The Courier Mail (Australia)
“Both uplifting and sad, this is a moving debut from Kuipers.”
— Sunday Telegraph Magazine (Australia)
“… a heartfelt, touching and unforgettable glimpse into the lives of mothers and daughters everywhere, it is a story told in a simple and poignant narrative.”
— Financial Mail (South Africa)
“Beautifully realized, it both breaks and warms the heart and will stay with the reader for a long time.”
— Lancashire Evening Post (UK)

©2018 Alice Kuipers | Bestselling YA and Picture Book Author. Design by Janine Stoll Media.
Illustration by Julie Larocque.