When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
September 1, 2020
The gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…
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 received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was an interesting read and I’m glad that I listened to it.
A predominately black neighborhood in Brooklyn is going through changes. Neighbors are leaving left and right and white people are moving in. Businesses are closing and then reopen, catering to a new type of customer. The neighborhood is going through gentrification, a not uncommon problem.
This story is told from two perspectives: Sydney, a black female, and Theo, a white male. This provides an insider/outsider perspective and I thought was a clever way to show the social issues through different eyes. Sydney has lived in the neighborhood most of her life and she is trying to hold on to her family home. Theo recently moved in with his girlfriend.
Sydney and Theo soon begin a friendship and try to understand each other given the circumstances. The evolution of their relationship felt organic and their conversations brought racial and social issues to the front. The pair soon find themselves wondering if the changes happening may be caused by more sinister schemes.
I found the overall plot interesting and liked that this thriller took real-life issues. Not only was this a thriller, but educational on current social issues that plague many communities across the country. What makes this story scary is how realistic the problems are. I don’t have first-hand knowledge of the racial topics, so I’m not going to get in-depth about it, but I appreciated what the author was trying to achieve and hope to see more novels like this in the future.
I did find the plot slow-moving in the beginning. It took about half to the book to establish characters and for more thriller aspects to be displayed. It really picked up in the last third and I felt that it moved very fast at the end. I also found the twist to be predictable. I did like the open ending, however, and thought it was very fitting for the story.
As this was an audiobook, I very much enjoyed the narration. I liked that there were different narrators portraying Sydney and Theo. The change is voices helped keep up with the story and made the characters more real. It was well-read and kept my attention and they did a good job.
Trigger Warnings: Violence, Murder, Racism