In Other Words: When Watched

In Other Words: When Watched

A collection of short stories explores the complexities of life through human connection.
Published: April 26, 2022
Alternative Text
Each of the 19 stories offers a glimpse into a different life.

In Other Words is The NewsHouse’s biweekly book review. Contributors Ashley Clemens and Chloe Langerman cover everything from fantasy to modern fiction to memoirs. At the end of their reviews, they’ll share a recording of their favorite passage from each book.


When Watched by Leopoldine Core is a collection of 19 fictional short stories that follow ordinary people and showcase quick snapshots of their lives. Most of these stories revolve around at least two characters and focus on the dynamics that ensue between them. The aspect of this book that stuck out to me the most was the overwhelming intimacy of these relationships. Conversations between the characters felt like those which happen only behind closed doors or in hushed whispers.

These are stories I still think about days after having read them. They are brief glimpses into the lives of arbitrary people, but their flaws and personalities come alive so quickly that they feel real. Even in the most mundane moments, every character has a defining emotion that spurs their actions. These stories display how easy it is to impact others, whether it is somebody we love, hate, or are indifferent to.

Despite the shortness of some of the stories, they still have something to say about the human experience. Some moments are stark in their sadness while others are unabashedly joyful. This range of emotions shows the complexities of living life and trying to find one’s way.

There is no resolute conclusion to any of these stories, no closure as to where any of the characters end up in life. But, this does not make them shallow or uninteresting. It’s realistic that not every person you encounter in your life will stay there forever. Core’s straightforward but emotion-filled prose capture the essence that not every feeling is permanent, but what one does with those feelings leaves lasting impacts.

At times, reading these stories back to back felt a little repetitive. While characters had vastly different life experiences, the actual settings they existed in were often similar. For this reason, I think When Watched is a perfect book to pick up sporadically or when you’re in the mood for a quick reading break.

In other words, 4.5/5.