Life On the Refrigerator Door

Alice Kuipers

"Notes Between A Mother and Daughter"

“Life on the Refrigerator Door” is a novel about a mother and daughter whose main source of communication is writing letters and taping them to the refrigerator door. The mother is portrayed as a single mom who works many long and sporadic hours because she is an OB-GYN. Throughout the novel, it is apparent that the two are very close and both wish they were able to spend more one on one time with each other. Early in the novel, the mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. In an attempt to protect her daughter, she acts as if the breast cancer is no big deal, but the daughter later realizes how life threatening this cancer is for her mother. The mother continues to work regardless of her health because she wants to continue to take care of her daughter and doesn’t want her to go live with her father. Their notes begin to show distress and the strain this cancer is creating in their relationship because the daughter feels that her mother is not properly taking care of herself. The mother is persistent when it comes to hiding the extent of the cancer from her daughter in effort to not worry her. As the days go on and the mother continues to get worse, the letters from the mother become shorter and more “to the point”. She simply says things like, “Tired, gone to lay down”. The daughter’s letters become more frustrated as well and she begins to push herself away from her mother and begins spending a few nights at her fathers. The mother then realizes that by her not involving her daughter, it is tearing their relationship apart. She begins to open up more about her cancer, inviting her to come to doctor’s appointment and chemo therapy. The daughter seems to rarely make it because she is too busy with her high school social life and boyfriend. As the daughter begins to notice her mother’s health deteriorating, she starts to panic and say how bad of a daughter she has been for not being with her throughout her treatment. The mother reassures her that she’s been an amazing daughter and has always helped her with things around the house or gone to the grocery store for her. For the rest of the novel, the two talk about the doctor appointments, plan nights to spend together eating dinner and watching movies. The mother isn’t getting any better, but her love and strong attitude doesn’t go away. She continues to be as protective as possible when it comes to her daughters feelings, as giving as possible when it comes to an allowance, making dinner for her daughter, and as loving as possible when her daughter has a break down about her mother not getting better. Unfortunately at the end of the novel, the mother loses her battle to cancer. The daughter continues to write letters to tape to the refrigerator door in hopes of her mother still being able to read them. In her letters, you can see the strength and positivity the daughter has that the mother has passed down to her throughout the situation.