We all have secrets, regrets, and other bottled-up emotions that we successfully hide, often from ourselves. The monsters resurface every now and then but are quickly buried deep in the crevices of our heads and hearts. Perhaps by doing so we are locking up an essential part of ourselves and thus we are never completely healed and whole. What if we confronted those dark feelings and we were honest about who we are? Maybe someone would judge us, like us a little less, but why should that matter when, by tackling our demons, we can finally be at peace?
‘The Authenticity Project’ by Clare Pooley, with its myriad characters, one of which you are sure to relate to, makes you think of this and other conundrums of life. You realize no one is perfect and you aren’t either but not all flaws should be embraced. It’s human nature to change and evolve and working on our weaknesses and niggles can make us a better version of ourselves.
The book begins with 37-year-old Monica, who runs a cafe in London, finding a green notebook, titled The Authenticity Project. Julian Jessop, 79-year-old artist, has written some truths about his life and left it at her cafe. In it, he asks the person who finds it to write his/her story and then leave the book for someone else to discover. Monica does as instructed and then lets it go. From then on, the journal falls into the hands of various people—an addict, a tourist and an Instagram influencer. As they all tell their own stories before leaving the book for others to come across, the characters end up forging a bond among themselves. By doing so, they realize the power of community, friendship, and the importance of staying true to oneself.
The language is easy albeit a bit clichéd here and there but that doesn’t take away from a story that brims with hope and positivity. There are moments of clarity when you feel like everything in life is manageable, every problem solvable, if you can just muster up the courage to be your authentic self. The Authenticity Project is fiction but, in a way, it is self-help too. It will make you re-evaluate your thinking and look into your actions to see what subtle changes you can make to significantly alter your life. The book also conveys a powerful message on the importance of fostering good relationships and being kind. All in all, it’s a cozy, feel-good book that reminds you to be a little easy on yourself as well as those around you.
The Authenticity Project
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 404, Paperback