Everyone lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead?
This question, posed in the opening pages of “The Authenticity Project” by Clare Pooley, sets up a thread of connection that is universally desired and especially relevant to today’s human condition.
At first glance, the concept of truth-telling to strangers may suggest comparison to the pop culture Post Secret art project phenomenon. Apart, however, from the singular confessional nature of Post Secret, Pooley has created a collective of storytellers, bound together not just literally by geography or the pages of a traveling notebook, but figuratively as well, by loss and longing, self-reflection, and a quest for meaning and significance.
Pooley’s characters are layered and complex, likeable and not, from the exterior – and beautifully revealed through the ways, hows, and whys they open up in the sharing of their own truths and deepest selves. I was particularly drawn to café proprietor Monica, who reveres British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and left the financial security of a corporate career to “create something…be fearless…do something you really love.”
More than great fodder for a book club discussion, “The Authenticity Project” invites each of us to consider who we are underneath the façades of occupation, reputation, and carefully curated social identity. To quote the character of Julian, “Maybe you’ll find it cathartic, as I did. What happens next is up to you.”