I was blown away with what I thought would be a comfortable, mediocre read. Nine Perfect Strangers is anything but mediocre! This novel is witty, relatable, and deeply emotional. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Liane Moriarty does what many authors struggle with- consistent, unique character writing, a narrative that jumps from character to character. Each character had so much personality and depth, from the quirky romance writer panicking over the end of her career (which is so relatable that Francis’ chapters became some of my favorite moments in the book) and being romantically scorned, to the family grieving a terrible loss. I found myself relating to all the little details, able to see why the characters were the way they were- why they had all come here, to Tranquillum, to find… a new healing of the wounds in their lives. Their motivations were real, and they, in turn, felt real to me as a reader. I saw the faces of real people I knew in their issues. Some slight spoilers in the next paragraph!
I particularly loved Ben, whose struggles came from a sister with addiction issues that had corrupted his family and his desire to help her for the sister he once knew, and the issues that created between himself and his wife, who had nothing but contempt for the sister and only saw her as a druggie. I loved his wife, for her desire to be seen by him while at the same time not realizing he did see her- he had always seen her, before she started messing with her appearance and letting the money they won go to her head. Besides them and Francis, I really loved the Marconi family. I thought that the plot, the three different ways they experienced guilt over their roles in a son’s suicide, was brilliantly crafted and cleverly written. My favorite line in the entire book was the realization that Zack was not himself: “It wasn’t me.” And it wasn’t. It was beautiful, emotional, and had me in tears- which very few novels manage to do.
As a writer myself, I can only imagine the loving craft that went into this book, the attention each character got and the depth of their backstories were incredible. By the end, I felt as though I knew them all, I knew what paths they had walked and the journey they had been on. It was a cathartic experience, almost therapeutic to read, and goes down as one of the most meaningful, insightful books I have- while also being a hell of a good thrilling read.
After finishing the book, I watched the tv series. While I loved the actors they had cast, I was disappointed with some of the changes they made. I loved the Ben and Jessica change, but the changes made to Masha’s backstory I did not- I prefer the book Masha.
All this taken into consideration, I still loved the show, I loved the book even more, and this has become a keeper for me.