Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When No One is Watching” as Want to Read:
When No One is Watching
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When No One is Watching

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  47,448 ratings  ·  7,571 reviews
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, Sydne
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by William Morrow Paperbacks
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When No One is Watching, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Emily C Yes, a few f-bombs but mostly gun violence and racial violence. It’s a thriller related to graphic violence inherent in White Supremacy and systemic r…moreYes, a few f-bombs but mostly gun violence and racial violence. It’s a thriller related to graphic violence inherent in White Supremacy and systemic racism in urban gentrification.

There is also an open door sex scene.(less)
Emily C Not just watching neighbors from the window, but also the growing sense of unease and paranoia that happens when you’re witnessing things from a dista…moreNot just watching neighbors from the window, but also the growing sense of unease and paranoia that happens when you’re witnessing things from a distance that you can’t explain. There is a rising sense of dread when you want to shake off the feeling that something is wrong, but you can’t (and shouldn’t).(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  47,448 ratings  ·  7,571 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of When No One is Watching
Dec 14, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I LOVED the premise of this story and was so ready to rate it 4 or even 5 stars in the first 1/3 of the book. I love it when thrillers incorporate real world issues and social injustice, and I thought Cole’s approach to this genre was especially unique because it’s set up like a contemporary rom-com with very likable leading characters that you want to root for. I think the juxtaposition of having a setting that feels like a rom-com but is actually a thriller is a super interesting dy ...more
Hmmm. I understand what the author was going for here, a gentrification based take on "Get Out," but the pacing is off. The ending happens all at once and is so wild and then it's the end. This had a lot of potential. Great premise. Lots of interesting Brooklyn/NY history. Missteps in execution. ...more
Apr 06, 2021 rated it liked it
The concept behind this book is great. Gentrification is insidious and Alyssa Cole's idea to tie the injustice that accompanies it to a thriller plot was some big brain shit.

Let's start with praise: all of the (good) characters are easy to care about, and I was automatically rooting for Sydney from the very first page. I also think that the Rear Window and Get Out comparisons are accurate, and the elements that make those stories so gripping are apparent in this book as well. There are definitel
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads

When No One is Watching is a powerful and uncomfortable book to read. It is also difficult to describe, and although it's being marketed as a thriller, it is only part thriller, and not really a thriller until closer to the end. It is a mixture of genres blended together to craft a powerful message on social justice and gentrification.

Sydney Green, a black woman in her 30’s, is literally fighting to hold onto her mother's house in Gifford Place, a neighborhood going
“When I think of a Black community, the first thing that comes to mind—even if I don’t want it to—is crime. Drugs. Gangs. Welfare. That’s all the news has talked about since I was a kid. Not old people drinking tea. Not complex self-sustaining financial systems that had to be created because racism means being left out to dry.”

Emotionally, this book is 5 stars for me. As I read on, I found myself having this sense of respect towards Alyssa Cole.

Rationally, it is 4.5 star rating, but what are
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

Reviews you should check out: Bee's, Jazmen's, Carole's

I have adored everything Alyssa Cole has written, so when I heard about this new mystery thriller I knew it would make my most anticipated releases of the year list! I enjoyed this immensely and I hope people read this and fall in love with this thriller, but I hope they also realize how deeply rooted racism and systems built on racism are still thriving because of racism.

When No One Is Watching s
Melissa ~ Bantering Books
Be sure to visit Bantering Books to read all my latest reviews.

I have never read a novel quite like Alyssa Cole’s, When No One is Watching.

Primarily marketed as a thriller, it has, for the most part, all the prerequisite tension, psychological suspense, and unexpected twists it needs to fit that bill. But alongside all that lies a fierce examination of institutional racism and gentrification in contemporary society. Not to mention a fascinating history lesson, to boot.

It sounds like a lot to tr
chan ☆
fucking brilliant
Chelsea Humphrey
May 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
"People bury the parts of history they don't like, pave it over like African cemeteries beneath Manhattan skyscrapers. Nothing stays buried in this city, though."

When No One Is Watching is an expertly crafted thriller that is as informative as it is entertaining. It's not easy for an author to unpack a large amount of American history in a thriller, but that's precisely what Cole has done here. What begins as a slow burning mystery eventually converts to a heart-pounding reveal, and while I thin
myo (myonna reads)
The craziest thing about this book? Is that this shit could actually happen. Usually when i read thrillers i’m like “okay this could happen” but like it’ll have to be like the craziest thing ever but this book? This shit DOES happen. I enjoyed this book because it brought out the right kind of anger, frustration and fear. There were points where the characters were mircoaggressive and I wanted to put it down so bad but I literally could not put this book down.

I think the pacing was really slow
daph pink ♡
Great effort but pacing was off!
Didn't work for me!
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Needing a distraction from the stressors of everyday life, Sydney Green, decides to take one of the over-priced historic walking tours of her neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Sydney is a bit of a history buff and is curious to see what the tour will cover. She quickly realizes that the community she has lived in for her entire life isn't represented in the discussion.

It's hard to understand the history of a place while simultaneously ignoring the people who have lived there for g
✨ A ✨
“People bury the parts of history they don't like, pave it over like African cemeteries beneath Manhattan skyscrapers.”

Sydney returns home to Brooklyn after her divorce to take care of her sickly mother. Her beloved neighbourhood has changed and it seems like everything she loved about Brooklyn is disappearing - and fast.

With the help of her new neighbour Theo, Sydney researches into the history of the neighbourhood for a historic tour she's planning. However, the more she learns, the more para
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
EDITED TO ADD: To everyone, but especially white folks - if you are looking for a good book to read about what's going on in our country now with race and white violence, this is an excellent read. Though it takes the form of a suspense novel, and is extremely fun to read, it also does a fantastic job of letting white readers know what it is like for people of color to be targeted and to feel constantly unsafe. In addition to being a great thriller read, this book is educational and I learned a ...more
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
A haunting portrayal of gentrification, exposing the undertow of redlining, underhanded deals, and unfair taxes that prey upon hardworking homeowners. Covered by a glossy veneer of revitalizing a deteriorating community, gentrification in reality uproots lives by displacing poorer, often Black and minority, inhabitants with whiter, middle-class residents. When No One Is Watching is a slow-burn thriller set in Brooklyn that builds around this premise, a string of new move-ins triggering a gasligh ...more
Nilufer Ozmekik
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow! This is quite surprising! It’s not only well written, sinister, disturbing thriller, it is also thought provoking, informative, historical fiction tells us the unknown face and ethnical background of Brooklyn history which I found so interesting and which makes this book unique from the other regular thriller novels I lately read.

It’s great mash up of Us, Rear Window and other creepy neighborhood stories. Some parts also reminded me of third episode of Lovecraft Country which you should wa
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This was going to be a four star book until I got to the ending, more about that later.

I have never read this author before and I was interested in where she would go with this premise. The blurb for this book already tells a large part of the first half of the book. “ 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
Michael David
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A well-executed thriller and a very timely read all in one!

Sydney’s predominately Black neighborhood in Brooklyn is going through gentrification. Her neighbors are moving out of their houses with no notice and no goodbye, and white families are moving in. Anxious to make sure everyone knows the roots of the community she’s almost always lived in, Sydney is researching information for a walking tour she’ll host as part of the upcoming block party on her street. Her new, white neighbor, Theo, is
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You ever get the feeling you read a different book than anyone else?🤷🏻‍♀️. I saw such great reviews for this book. I’d been looking forward to it for so long. But…then I listened to it.

This book had a bit of an identity crisis. This book was touted as a thriller. Hmmm…. but it didn’t come off as one at least till the end (sort of).

I felt like I was listening to three books all smooshed together into one. And well…. that never works well.

We start with Sydney Green who lives in Brooklyn keepi
Brenda ~Traveling Sister is frustrated with GR
Hot Mess!! I am not sure what to say about this one. What started as an insightful look into gentrification, history, poverty, and racism turned into an off the rails thriller with no thrills for me. Any insight into the themes I picked up on was lost with that ending, and this story missed the mark for me.

Another story that fell victim to this over thinker and a case of the wrong reader for this one.

I received a copy from the publisher on EW.
Sep 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
I love Alyssa Cole. But I'm a New Yorker and I reserve the right to be persnickety about literary representations of New York. Taking on Brooklyn as your muse is no small thing to commit to, and this particular Brooklyn felt

Earlier this year I read and loved N.K. Jemisin's The City We Became. The comparisons between When No One Is Watching and The City We Became are unavoidable for me because they're so thematically similar, but the latter is executed much more cleverly. Jemisin dep
May 11, 2021 rated it liked it
I didn’t feel like this book was a ‘thriller’ until the last few chapters. 🤔 I almost added this to my DNF list, simply because it wasn’t ‘thrilling’ and felt more politically fueled. 😬 It’s an okay read- a lot happens in those last few chapters and honestly if it were not for that, this would be a 2 or 1.
Dr. Appu Sasidharan
Apr 11, 2021 rated it really liked it

(Regular Review) Sydney Green is born and brought up in Brooklyn. She is very proud of her neighborhood. Some of her neighbors are disappearing suddenly, and for-sale signs are popping up in front of their homes. Are the neighbors moving into the suburbs, or is it a portent of something sinister? Will Sydney be able to find it out? Are a selected rapacious bunch enjoying some prerogatives at the cost of innocent people? Are the boroughs of New York becoming too much extortionate for the prol
Sumit RK
Sep 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
When No One is Watching is a part thriller, part social commentary and part contemporary romance. It is a mixture of genres blended together to craft a powerful story about racism, gentrification, and social justice in America.

Sydney Green is born and raised in Brooklyn, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. 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 chan
Jessica | JustReadingJess
Full review

When No One is Watching was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Alyssa Cole really surprised me with this book. I read her Reluctant Royals series and really enjoyed it, but I didn’t know what to expect with her writing a thriller. Alyssa Cole included all of her best writing qualities in this book and an important issue. When No One is Watching is releasing at the perfect time with the importance of race issues in 2020.

Thank you Ha
Well I don't think that I've ever read a book like this. This is absolutely bonkers. HAHA. I didn't expect a lot of what I read even though I heard a lot about this book before going into it.

So this is going to be a difficult book to explain without delving into spoilers, but I'm going to try my best. When No One is Watching is Alyssa Cole's debut into the thriller genre (although I would categorize this more so as horror than a thriller). If features a character by the name of Sydney who slowly
Katie B
There are many things I loved about this book even though it fell a little short in the thriller department. I was impressed how the author incorporated relevant issues into the story. I also appreciated how the story featured a Black female lead character as non-white characters are underrepresented in the thriller/mystery/suspense genres. (Definitely the case in other genres as well, but in my opinion the genres I mentioned have the worst record for diverse reads.)

Sydney Green has spent most o
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skip-the-line, libby
This was a tough one to rate.. I loved this book, like 5 ⭐️ up until about 75% in and then it took a dive to a 2 ⭐️ read for me, I was left so confused and the ending felt rushed and unclear. I ended up still giving it a higher rating because up until the end, I was glued to it, I stayed up way too late reading it and I am still thinking about the characters.

Things I loved:
THE CHARACTERS - Sydney, Theo, every single black character in the neighbourhood, I LOVED reading about all of them and I fo
Oct 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, library
Gentrification has been a large part of every city’s history. But this is the first mystery I can remember that incorporates it into the plot. Sydney lives in Gifford Park, desperately trying to hold on to her grandmother’s house. In an effort to hold on to the community’s past, she plans a walking tour. She gets an unlikely assistant. Theo is one of the new white transplants to the neighborhood. His girlfriend Kim and the other white people came across as two dimensional to me, cardboard cliche ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2021 Reading Chal...: This topic has been closed to new comments. When No One is Watching 3 36 May 03, 2021 08:40AM  
Go On Girl! Book...: About the Book 5 9 May 02, 2021 06:58PM  
Go On Girl! Book...: About Alyssa Cole 2 6 Apr 01, 2021 01:49PM  
And the Author is...: June 2021: When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole 1 4 Mar 26, 2021 07:36AM  
Literally Dead Bo...: when no one is watching | pg 109 - 223 22 353 Mar 06, 2021 11:19PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Strangers on a Train
  • The Glass Hotel
  • The Missing Sister
  • A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)
  • A Cold Trail (Tracy Crosswhite, #7)
  • In Five Years
  • Bad Memory (Jessica Shaw, #2)
  • The Other Wife
  • Loveboat, Taipei (Loveboat, Taipei, #1)
  • Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered, #2)
  • Yes No Maybe So
  • The Topeka School
  • Postcards from Venice
  • My Italian Bulldozer
  • Your House Will Pay
  • If I Never Met You
  • Break Shot: My First 21 Years
  • Death in Avignon (Penelope Kite #2)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union was the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018, and A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Bust ...more

Articles featuring this book

'Tis the season of the beach read, that herald of summer sun and vacation vibes! Whether you're the type of reader who has very strict rules...
66 likes · 10 comments
“People bury the parts of history they don't like, pave it over like African cemeteries beneath Manhattan skyscrapers.” 13 likes
“Sydney.” Theo is grinning as he calls my attention back to him, though his eyes are somber. “I need you to channel the confidence of a mediocre white man. I’ll give you mine. We’ll figure it out because we don’t have any other choice.” 8 likes
More quotes…