The Authenticity Project

Pamela Dorman: Viking. Feb. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781984878618. $26. F
DEBUT Widowed artist Julian Jessop is lonely. That’s one truth in his life. He misses his wife, whom he took for granted when she was alive and appreciates only now that she’s gone. He feels invisible and remembers the glory of being noticed and known. Julian writes all of these truths in a green notebook, names it “The Authenticity Project,” and gives readers a challenge to share the truth about their lives and pass it along. He leaves the notebook in his local café, where the owner, Monica, finds it and attempts to return it, only to discover Julian’s life in it. She spills her story onto the pages, and the notebook wends its way to an island retreat with a recovering addict, to a sunny Aussie brightening lives all around him, and to an Instagram mom. As each truth-teller intersects with the others, truths adapt and rebel. Is authenticity in the eye of the teller or the beholder?
VERDICT Not only a charming story of strangers connecting in beguiling ways, this debut fiction by memoirist (The Sober Diaries) and blogger Pooley is a thoughtful meditation on authenticity in the age of self-promotion. Recommended for readers looking for a pick-me-up.

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