Life on the Refrigerator Door
Maybe you don’t have a teenager, but you were a teenager so you’ll probably get something out of Alice Kuiper’s intentionally slim novel Life on a Refrigerator Door.
Kuipers, who is originally from London, UK, now lives in Saskatoon.
It’s a story told completely in refrigerator-door notes between a 15-year-old girl, Claire, and her overworked single mom, a physician. The woman and her daughter rarely see each other. In this format, the book can be read in about 45 minutes, give or take.
Showing and not telling is widely held to be the holy grail of fiction writing. By writing a story using so few words, Kuiper enables the reader to fill in the details with personal experiences and imaginings rather than spelling everything out. The note format also allows the reader to draw conclusions about the mother and daughter from small but meaningful acts, such as the teen girl’s growth and increasing independence measured out through her struggle to keep track of her house key.
The clever concept seems strained at times but if you’re willing to suspend disbelief---that so much can be expressed on such little pieces of paper---it is a moving story about love and loss.