I don’t normally reach for thrillers, but I do think if you’re going to do it, this is the time of year to do it. I’m excited to share the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club because I know it’s a popular title: “When No One is Watching” by Alyssa Cole.
Before I get into it, here is the scoop on “When No One is Watching”:
Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.
But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.
When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?
I saw this at a virtual book event at the start of summer and I thought it sounded interesting, even though it might be a little scary. Since I saw it the first time, though, it’s been a book club pick for several popular groups… and I had to wait awhile to get the digital copy from the library.
I hadn’t heard of Alyssa Cole before, so I did a little bit of digging to see what other books she had out. To my surprise, she’s typically a romance writer!
An article from The New York Times explores why she departed her comfort zone for this book:
I write historical romances set in a variety of periods of American history. But as I’m researching all these different periods, there’s always anti-Blackness. There’s always these kind of incredibly, so cruel that they’re ridiculous, forms of oppression.
Pretty cool. I’m not sure when Ms. Cole started writing her novel, but obviously it was before recent civil rights events, and now it seems so timely. But I suppose that because, like she said, anti-blackness has always been a part of history, her book always would have been timely.
There were parts of this book that had me a little spooked, but not enough to give me nightmares. So, if you’re a scaredy cat like me, you could still probably stomach this one.
There’s also a touch of romance in there, which helps move the story along. I saw a few references to “Rear Window” and I’d say there’s a touch of that, given that the main characters keep a very close eye on what’s happening in others’ homes.
I’d definitely recommend this book if you’ve spent some of this year educating yourself on race in America. This book is fictional, but it puts a few faces to stories we’ve heard so much about in recent years.
The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Right Swipe” by Alisha Rai.
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