Study Guide

Nine Perfect Strangers Contraband

By Liane Moriarty

Contraband

Ever snuck candy into the movies? Oh, you little rebel. You’re just like the guests at Tranquillum House.

Many of the folks staying at this 10-day detox retreat can’t quite bring themselves to totally detox from the outside world so they try to bring in some forbidden items. Here’s Frances:

She didn’t want to let the bag out of her sight because she’d packed a few banned items, like coffee, tea, chocolate (dark chocolate—antioxidants!), and just one bottle of a good red (also antioxidants!). (6.24)

Tony also stocks up on beer and crackers. Zoe wraps up a bottle of wine and some peanut butter cups. And Napoleon brings in a watch, which, apparently, is forbidden.

These banned items represent the guests’ connection to the outside world. Sometimes Masha is able to squash it—like when the staff takes the contraband out of Frances and Tony’s luggage. Other times, the items sneak by without her notice—like with Zoe and Napoleon.

Masha needs to separate her guests from their familiar connection to the world around them so she can create her own reality inside Tranquillum House. A reality where she can shape and transform her guests as she chooses. But with contraband, her guests fight back. 

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