Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City (Hardcover)
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“Destined to become one of the classics of the genre” (Newsweek), the riveting, unforgettable story of a girl whose indomitable spirit is tested by homelessness, poverty, and racism in an unequal America—from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Andrea Elliott of The New York Times
ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, Time, and NPR
Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of a girl whose imagination is as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn shelter. Dasani was named after the bottled water that signaled Brooklyn’s gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. In this sweeping narrative, Elliott weaves the story of Dasani’s childhood with the history of her family, tracing the passage of their ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani comes of age, the homeless crisis in New York City has exploded amid the deepening chasm between rich and poor.
Dasani must guide her siblings through a city riddled by hunger, violence, drug addiction, homelessness, and the monitoring of child protection services. Out on the street, Dasani becomes a fierce fighter to protect the ones she loves. When she finally escapes city life to enroll in a boarding school, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning your family, and yourself?
By turns heartbreaking and inspiring, Invisible Child tells an astonishing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family, and the cost of inequality. Based on nearly a decade of reporting, Invisible Child illuminates some of the most critical issues in contemporary America through the life of one remarkable girl.
About the Author
Andrea Elliott is an investigative reporter for The New York Times and a former staff writer at The Miami Herald. Her reporting has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize, a George Polk Award, a Scripps Howard Award, and prizes from the Overseas Press Club and the American Society of News Editors. She has served as an Emerson Collective fellow at New America, a visiting journalist at the Russell Sage Foundation, and a visiting scholar at the Columbia Population Research Center, and is the recipient of a Whiting Foundation grant. In 2015, she received Columbia University’s Medal for Excellence, given to one alumnus or alumna under the age of forty-five. She lives in New York City. This is her first book.
“A vivid and devastating story of American inequality.”—The New York Times
“From its first indelible pages to its rich and startling conclusion, Invisible Child had me, by turns, stricken, inspired, outraged, illuminated, in tears, and hungering for reimmersion in its Dickensian depths. This book is so many things: a staggering feat of reporting, an act of profound civic love, an extraordinarily moving tale about the fierceness of family love, and above all, a future American classic.”—Ayad Akhtar, author of Homeland Elegies
“A wonderful and important book.”—Tracy Kidder, author of Strength in What Remains and Mountains Beyond Mountains
“Andrea Elliott’s Invisible Child swept me away. Filled with unexpected twists and turns, Dasani’s journey kept me up nights reading. Elliott spins out a deeply moving story about Dasani and her family, whose struggles underscore the stresses of growing up poor and Black in an American city, and the utter failure of institutions to extend a helping hand. Invisible Child is a triumph.”—Alex Kotlowitz, bestselling author of There Are No Children Here
“Elliott’s book is a triumph of in-depth reporting and storytelling. It is a visceral blow-by-blow depiction of what ‘structural racism’ has meant in the lives of generations of one family. But above all else it is a celebration of a little girl—an unforgettable heroine whose frustration, elation, exhaustion, and intelligence will haunt your heart.”—Ariel Levy, author of The Rules Do Not Apply
“With her Invisible Child, Andrea Elliott has achieved a towering feat of reporting that paints, layer by layer, an extraordinary portrait of a child, a family, a city, and the nation that produced them. From start to finish, she sustains an insatiably curious and deeply empathetic focus on worlds that so many people work hard, if mostly unconsciously, to never really see.”—Howard W. French, author of Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War
“Invisible Child is hands down the best book I have read in years. This is a profoundly moving investigation into what it means to truly love other human beings. . . . A masterpiece.”—Thomas Harding, bestselling author of Hanns and Rudolf and Blood on the Page
“Stunning . . . a remarkable achievement that speaks to the heart and conscience of a nation.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A heartbreaking story of a family . . . This important book packs a real gut punch.”—Booklist (starred review)