The Authenticity Project- Review by Allison

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The Authenticity Project
Clare Pooley

352 pages
Published February 5th, 2020 by Pamela Dorman Books / Viking


“Everyone lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared your truth instead?”

And so starts The Authenticity Project– truths poured into a small notebook that winds its way around the hearts and pens of six characters in Clare Pooley’s fun story about the truths -and lies- we tell ourselves and others.

Julian Jessop, an eccentric (almost) 80 year old begins his project with a small green notebook. In it, he admits his truth.  He has made mistakes, lost his wife, and is old and lonely. When his truth has been told, he leaves the notebook in a café. Picked up by the cafe’s owner, Monica, she decides to write her truth after reading Julian’s story. Her truth? She wants a husband. And a baby.

The book then makes its way into the hands of characters Hazard, Riley, Alice and Lizzie.

Drug-addict Hazard flees to Thailand to escapes his demons. While there, he decides to find Monica the perfect husband to make all of her baby-making wishes come true.  Hilarity ensues within a beautiful, sun-kissed Thai backdrop. Sweet, unassuming Riley is the next to pick up the book.  He finds Monica, but is not entirely ready for FINDING her. He is a dreamer and a wanderer; she is rigid and stays in one place.  How will THAT work?  (Read it, you’ll see.)  Beautiful, make-upped Alice is an Instagram influencer that spends her days pretending to the entire world that her life on the ‘gram is indeed, perfect. We find it is far, FAR from it.  And you can almost FEEL grandmother-like Lizzie’s hugs when we meet her.  Her “curiosity” (nosiness) brings all of this together, neatly tying up the individual stories.

This book is something I would want to DO.  Can you even imagine….writing your truths with no filter…..and then sending that off into the world to encourage others to do the same.  What a brave endeavor.

This book was good. I definitely liked some characters more than others. I related most with Monica; rule-follower and planner. Life just seems to flow better when you have a plan.  (Doesn’t it?)  I know so many Alice’s; the time and effort to make a life look perfect when in fact, it is a bunch of dirty dishes piled in the sink, diaper blow-out, greasy haired moments that aren’t captured on camera. (And if they are, they are promptly deleted). I liked Riley but I loved Hazard, who was so deliciously flawed that you cheer for him to get the girl even though you want to punch him in the throat at times.

Secondary characters pepper this stew with their strong personalities, surprising returns from the dead and a few unexpected pairings. Mrs. Wu? HILARIOUS.  So overwhelmingly frustrated when anyone (especially a family member) colors outside of her very thick ethnic/generational lines. Keith? Adorable. Even the Admiral- a character in his own right. (You’ll see. Read it).

A good read for those who like a colorful cast of characters, a bit of England/ Britain slang (I learned SO MANY new words!) and a satisfyingly ending.

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