Select Page

Book Review: When No One is Watching

by | Jan 18, 2021 | Books

Spread the love

One of my favorite thrillers is “Get Out” by Jordan Peele. I wasn’t expecting Peele, a comedian, to create a movie with such an interesting concept about racism and turn it into a horror-comedy. Alyssa Cole’s latest book, “When No One Is Watching,” is considered a hybrid of “Get Out” and the movie “Rear Window,” but in book format. “When No One Is Watching” is a thrilling book about how gentrification, an already sinister concept, can take an even scarier turn for the worse.

Sydney Green is a 30-something African-American resident of a historical Brooklyn neighborhood. While maintaining her mother’s house and garden in the neighborhood, she notices the rapid changes in her neighborhood. The neighborhood hosts a walking tour of the historical area that Sydney helps organize, where she gets a new assistant to help with the tour: Theo. Theo is a caucasian male that recently moved to the neighborhood with his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. As the two delve further into the history of the neighborhood, they dive further into paranoia and fear about potential ill-mannered plans for their neighborhood, at the expense of the residents that have lived there for years.

The story is told from two perspectives: Sydney and Theo. Both narratives provide details that would not be obvious otherwise, however, each narrator has something to hide; they don’t disclose their truths until mid-way through the book. While the story does focus on gentrification, other social justice issues like racial profiling, false accusations based on race, and police brutality are also covered. I appreciated reading about the perspective of the “Black Lives Matter” movement from a black perspective, and having Sydney not be afraid to call out Theo for being “too much” when it comes to being an ally to the movement.

For my 2021 Reading Challenges, I used “When No One Is Watching” for the following prompts and challenges:

Similar to “‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King,” When No One is Watching starts off slow and then the “thriller” aspect kicks in and doesn’t recede. The pacing didn’t quite match the book, and I was waiting for a long time before the overall plot twist is finally revealed. One thing that also irked me was the community forums for the neighborhood that are discussed in the book; while these forums are meant to keep neighbors in touch and informed, it also shows how petty neighbors can be and how false information can quickly spread. Otherwise, Alyssa Cole wrote a strong book about how gentrification can take a turn for the worse.

You May Also Like…

Around the Year in 52 Books 2021 Reading Challenge

Around the Year in 52 Books 2021 Reading Challenge

This is my second year completing the "Around the Year in 52 Books" Reading Challenge. I first completed the challenge in 2020 and wanted to do it again for 2021. I did use the PopSugar Reading Challenge from this year to double up on similar prompts. Discover what...

2021 PopSugar Reading Challenge

2021 PopSugar Reading Challenge

After completing my first PopSugar Reading Challenge last year, I was so excited to see what the challenge was going to be for 2021. It took a little longer than last year, but I was able to complete my second PopSugar Reading Challenge this year. This year was more...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Me

Lifestyle blogger and digital marketer based in Wisconsin. Michigander at heart. I'm here to provide my take on life through my blog. Fueled by chardonnay, cast recordings and chocolate.