Based on nearly a decade of reporting, Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani Coates, a child with an imagination as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn homeless shelter. Born at the turn of a new century, Dasani is named for the bottled water that comes to symbolise Brooklyn’s gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. As Dasani moves with her family from shelter to shelter, this story traces the passage of Dasani’s ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north.
Dasani comes of age as New York City’s homeless crisis is exploding. In the shadows of this new Gilded Age, Dasani leads her seven siblings through a thicket of problems: hunger, parental drug addiction, violence, housing instability, segregated schools and the constant monitoring of the child-protection system.
When, at age thirteen, Dasani enrolls at a boarding school in Pennsylvania, her loyalties are tested like never before. Ultimately, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning the family you love?
By turns heartbreaking and revelatory, provocative and inspiring, Invisible Child tells an astonishing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family and the cost of inequality.
To be able to read this book, in itself, was a privilege. To be able to read this book, in the comfort of my own home, in the comfort of my own sofa, with warm blankets and a bottle of warm water next to me, in itself, was a privilege.
This is not a review. Who am I to review and judge someone else’s life? Who gives me the right to sit here and “review” this book? No, this is not a review. This is my upmost gratitude to Andrea Elliott who has spent 8 years telling and writing this story. This is my upmost gratitude to Dasani and her family to give us the opportunity to read about their lives, to learn about their struggle, to bear their souls for all of us to see.
When I finished this book last night, I was feeling everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Sadness, frustration, disbelief, disappointment, happiness, uncertainty, and hope. Yes, HOPE.
This isn’t just about poverty in America, it is about how the society and the system collectively as a whole have failed the most vulnerable, the children. It is eye-opening and it is heart-breaking. However, the most extraordinary thing among it all was the loyalties and love Dasani’s families have for each other. They have each other and that’s what’s matter.
Andrea Elliott has given us the opportunity to see inside the society and our humanity. She did it gracefully with so much respect to Dasani’s families. A part of my soul is forever touched by this book.
Thank you to my lovely friend Anna who has read this with me. You all should check out her review on this book too as she summarised it so incredibly well. Thank you to Najma and Hutchinson Heinemann for sending me this copy, no doubt this will be one of my favourite read in 2022.