Title: The Authenticity Project
Author: Clare Pooley
Publication Date: 4 February 2020
Number of Pages: 368
Julian Jessop, an eccentric, lonely artist and septuagenarian believes that most people aren’t really honest with each other. But what if they were? And so he writes–in a plain, green journal–the truth about his own life and leaves it in his local café. It’s run by the incredibly tidy and efficient Monica, who furtively adds her own entry and leaves the book in the wine bar across the street. Before long, the others who find the green notebook add the truths about their own deepest selves–and soon find each other In Real Life at Monica’s Café.
The Authenticity Project’s cast of characters–including Hazard, the charming addict who makes a vow to get sober; Alice, the fabulous mommy Instagrammer whose real life is a lot less perfect than it looks online; and their other new friends–is by turns quirky and funny, heartbreakingly sad and painfully true-to-life. It’s a story about being brave and putting your real self forward–and finding out that it’s not as scary as it seems. In fact, it looks a lot like happiness.
The Authenticity Project is just the tonic for our times that readers are clamoring for–and one they will take to their hearts and read with unabashed pleasure.”
Review: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
The Authenticity Project follows the story of how a simple green notebook with the words “The Authenticity Project” written on its cover left in a café leads an eclectic group of strangers to become friends and to confront their deepest truths. The Authenticity Project starts with Julian Jessop, an eccentric artist who is in his 70s, leaving his green notebook in Monica’s Café. In this notebook, he writes the truth about how lonely and invisible he’s been since his wife passed 15 years ago and then he invites the next person who finds it to write their truth. Throughout the story, this green notebook gets picked up by Monica, Hazard, Riley, Alice, and Lizzie, bringing them together and allowing them to reflect on the truth.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I started this book, but I ended up really enjoying it. My favourite thing about this book was how each character was seamlessly introduced to the story. I loved how each character was gradually introduced, how we got to see them react to the stories before them, and how later on, once another character was introduced, we got to see what they wrote in the notebook.
Another thing that made this book stand out to me was the characters. I thought that Julian was a quirky character who brought a memorable amount of razzle-dazzle to the story. I loved Monica and how brave, committed, caring and organized she was. I enjoyed reading about Hazard’s struggle with his addiction and discovering who he really is. Riley kind of reminded me of a puppy dog, and I liked his positive attitude. I also liked reading about Alice and how she struggled with the difference between the picture-perfect life she’s showing on Instagram and reality.
I liked that this book dealt with serious issues, especially addiction. To a certain extent, addiction plays an important role in the life of most of the characters in this book. I also liked that addiction took many different forms in this book, including alcohol addiction, drug addiction, compulsive behaviour, vanity, and lying, to name a few. I think that addiction is an issue that plays a part in the lives of a lot of people, and I like it when it pops up in books in a way that feels real and authentic.
One minor complaint that I have about the book is that Monica felt too much like Monica from Friends. I like Friends, and I appreciate its contribution to pop-culture, but unfortunately, every time Monica was mentioned, I thought of Monica Geller.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and the friendship that formed because of the green notebook. I liked that this book dealt with various kinds of addiction and I enjoyed the discussion of what is authentic. Once I started this book, I had a difficult time putting it down, I definitely recommend it.
Rating: 4/5 stars!