Book Review

Book Spotlight: The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

Synopsis in under 100: Julian writes in a discreet notebook, “Everybody lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth?” and begins to journal his truth and ditches it in a coffee shop for the next unsuspecting writer. The book’s purpose is to reach as many people anonymously as possible who are invited to add their own truths and learn from those previous.

Review: There’s always something about a book that grips and individual, there’s always something that pushes me over the fence to buy a book. The grip happened almost immediately with this novel, with Julian’s admission of loneliness. What pushed me to buy was the line, just 8% into the novel (according to my kindle sample) “Monica let herself into her apartment. Honey, I’m home, she said, as she always did, silently and to no one, and thought for a minute she was going to cry.” It was so relatable to me and my lived situation that I couldn’t leave.

In fact, I read this book incredibly quickly and it was one of those that I thought about when I was away, “I’d rather be reading.” You know the feeling.

There are several characters, all well-rounded and unique to their story. How they mesh is interesting and fun to reveal as each character writes their truth in the notebook.

However, the plot becomes nothing more than a love triangle and is fairly predictable by the end. Everything comes out to be sunshine and rainbows and everyone is friends, and yaaaay! The hearty, gritty, authentic character motivations that gripped me in the first half seemed to be forgotten in the last quarter.

I mean, magically a deteriorating marriage is tied in a bow, a spinster finds not one but two loves in a matter of months, an addict is reabsorbed into the world without and psychotic breaks (or releases). It’s just too… flat.

I’m still giving this book 3-stars simply because it was well planned, well organized, and well written. Again, even though it became predictable, there was something pulling me to keep reading. The characters are loveable, I just wish they didn’t turn out so happily-ever-after, it made finishing the novel hollow. The complex characters and situations deserved to maintain their complexity instead of sweeping everything under the rug. I don’t think “My truth is free and all these people know about it” would automatically give someone the powerful exhale some of us are clinging to. Neither does it offer me hope for my own exhale. The characters didn’t struggle with anything anymore, “happily ever after” cannot be achieved in the real world.

In all, The Authenticity Project, although a marvelously unique idea, one I’ve often thought about performing in my own town (and I still do), transforms into something completely inauthentic and contrived.

I won’t go into further analysis of this, as half the novel focuses on how “Authenticity… [is] totally overrated.” The book’s not deep enough to create its own conceit and flesh it out through its characters. Yes, the poor ending tainted my regard for this novel greatly.

Final Rating: 3 stars

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