“The Authenticity Project” by Clare Pooley | Book Review

Book Review | Rating – 3/5 | Genre – Contemporary Romance

For the first few weeks (probably months) of the new year, there are going to be reviews from books I got for Christmas and my birthday. The “to be read” pile has gotten a lot larger now, so I want to get through the new books first before going back through other books I own.

First up, is a book I got from my Aunt, who was reading this book herself, and thought it would be a nice one for me to give it a go. Here is what I thought…


Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.

Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.

Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely. (Check it out here)


What did I think?

I’ll start off this review by saying that this wouldn’t be the sort of book that I would usually pick up. Throughout 2021 I was starting to venture into books outside of fantasy & sci-fi, reading books like If I Never Met You, Sweet Sorrow & Freedom Writers. So, I thought i’d start 2022 the same way, trying to broaden my reading horizons.

In this case, I struggled to get into this book. At first, I thought I was on board, enjoying the introduction of various characters, seeing the secrets that they reveal in the notebook. It also became fascinating seeing them discover each others’ stories, wanting to help each other with their struggles, even before meeting each other. It was only when I got halfway through that I realised there were meant to be six people who discover the notebook, with only four appearing for the first 3/4’s of the book. Once I’d discovered this the book felt a lot longer than I felt it should’ve been.

The saving grace for me was entirely the characters. Even when the plot started to drag, I found the various characters’ developments super interesting. The most particular change comes from Hazard & Alice. I won’t spoil anything, but their arcs are the most fascinating to watch unfold. The downside was Monica, a character who seemed to be the main character of the group, yet was the most frustrating to read.

Reasons why you should read The Authenticity Project…

  • Interesting premise: I guess in some aspects you could call this book a farse, watching the characters’ secrets come out as the notebook is passed around. Each reveal offers a new character a different perspective on the group they’re joining. Yes, the plot drag out a bit, but the core of the book always remains intriguing.
  • Enticing characters: Ignoring Monica, the book is full of rather brilliant characters, with their various journeys opening up beautifully no matter what part of the book they’re introduced. Even some of the later characters (Alice) seem to be given enough time once introduced to full understand them and see how they change throughout.

At the end of the day…

I was very back and forth on this book. There were moments where I really enjoyed it, mainly when I was reading chapters on Alice & Hazard, and sometimes even Julian Jessop, watching the characters change along their journey was a constant joy. Then there were moments where the book started to drag, mainly the pain of watching Monica’s constant judgments or the general length of the book as new characters were added at the last moment.

Not to say that I didn’t enjoy this book, I didn’t stop halfway through or even wish the book was over. I just could’ve done with the book being slightly shorter. Either way, I don’t regret this being the first book of the year, and can’t wait to see what I read next.

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