This year, I’ve started something new on Instagram that is a part of my new reading goals — a book club of sorts to read as a community. You all voted for When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole. Here are my thoughts and some questions to spark some discussion about this book!
Summary: When No One is Watching is about a woman who grew up in an area of Brooklyn and is faced with many suspicious changes taking place in her community. People and businesses she loves are disappearing. Right as many white people are moving in. She starts planning a historical tour and finds out a lot about Brooklyn’s history that’s very connected to what’s taking place around her.
What I loved: This book about racism and gentrification taught me a lot more than I thought I’d learn. While it’s fiction, it’s based on experiences Black people have faced and continue to face in the U.S. Every time I thought, that behavior is far-fetched or that wouldn’t happen, I had to check my own understanding and privilege and realize the underlying themes of this book such as white supremacy are all too real today. These issues show up in different ways that don’t always make the headlines but still destroy lives and neighborhoods.
What I didn’t love: As a thriller, I could have used more suspense. I also thought the first half moved a little slow and wanted to believe the relationship between Sydney and Theo more.
Here are a few questions to spark some book club thought or discussion about When No One is Watching. Feel free to comment on Instagram or right here!
Did you know much about Brooklyn’s history? What surprised you most about what Sydney and Theo learned as they did research for the tour?
Sydney is a complex character with a lot of issues. Why do you think she made the decisions she did? How’s that different from Kim?
What part in the storyline provided the most suspense or surprise?
Thanks for reading with me or joining the discussion if you already read this one!