Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City

Andrea Elliott. Random House, $30 (624p) ISBN 978-0-8129-8694-5
“A child’s homelessness is hidden,” writes New York Times investigative reporter Elliot in her stunning debut, which chronicles eight years in the life of Dasani Coates, starting in 2012, when Coates was one of 22,000 homeless children in New York City. With compassion and curiosity, she uses the story of Dasani to make visible the cycles of poverty, inequity, and resilience that plague families across the United States. Elliott skillfully portrays Dasani’s experiences, from age 11, living in a rat-infested shelter, “freighted by... forces beyond her control,” including hunger, drug abuse, and the pervasive threat of being separated from family by child protection services. As Dasani gets older, she confronts the dilemma of whether to keep her family together, or leave them for a free boarding school that “educate[s] children in need,” and promises a better future. Woven into Dasani’s tale is her scrupulously reported ancestral lineage, which allows Elliott to unveil the story of a country grappling with an enduring legacy of slavery, racism, and destitution. As Dasani’s mother says of their family’s fate, “It’s a cycle.... just coming back around.” Though the narrative centers on the inevitability of these cycles, Elliott manages to incorporate moments of profound hope and togetherness throughout. This is a remarkable achievement that speaks to the heart and conscience of a nation. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/13/2021
Release date: 10/05/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 960 pages - 978-0-593-51028-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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