The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Expected publication: February 4th 2020 by Penguin Random House Canada and Viking
About the Book:
The story of a solitary green notebook that brings together six strangers and leads to unexpected friendship, and even love. 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.

I had reverse metamorphosed from a butterfly into a caterpillar.

I couldn’t put The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley down this weekend. I was completely drawn to the idea of strangers meeting, and becoming friends, via a notebook. It was such an interesting concept and I loved reading the author’s take on it. I will admit, I was slightly worried this would be a bit saccharine based on the synopsis, but I still wanted to give the novel a chance. As the book gets rolling, I was still unsure of how things would progress. The story kept me glued to the pages practically all day Saturday and early Sunday, just to answer the question, “Will they or won't they?”

Instead, as I became more immersed in the story, I found it wasn’t the kind of novel I was expecting at all. Clare Pooley’s writing and storytelling created a unique experience for me. I was hanging on every word, waiting for a big moment, dying to see how a few secondary characters’ perspectives would come into play. I was worried the ending might be anticlimactic after what felt like an hours-long drum-roll. Then BAM! Everything I’d been waiting for suddenly made sense in a true mix of magic and misery. I was crossing my fingers and toes for the characters, hoping things could be resolved in the best possible way.

I truly appreciated everything Clare Pooley did with this novel. It covered the romance aspect in a way that was both believable and intriguing, almost making the whole story feel like true life. I loved the dynamics of Julian, our main character’s marriage, with his wife, Mary. It felt like a realistic picture of what marriage is like, rather than a fluffy or deeply depressing depiction as we see in many novels. It towed the in-between, showing the ups and downs couples face in real life.

I loved how the author showed the life of addicts, new mom's, singleton's and seniors in a different light, they are real people living real hard matter what they show to the outside world. In the end, this story moved me tears and makes my heart flutter thinking about it now. It wasn’t the perfect read I was expecting, but it was definitely a story I was glad to get lost in. I will certainly be reading more of Clare Pooley’s books in the future as this was a rare five star read.

Thank you NetGalley, Clare Pooley, Penguin Random House Canada and Viking for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.

#TheAuthenticityProject #NetGalley


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