Invisible Child

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

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.

With compassion and curiosity, [Elliott] uses the story of Dasani to make visible the cycles of poverty, inequity, and resilience that plague families across the United States … This is a remarkable achievement that speaks to the heart and conscience of a nation. – Publishers Weekly

© Andrea Elliott 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022

Critics Review

  • A triumph of in-depth reporting and storytelling a visceral blow-by-blow depiction of what ‘structural racism’ has meant in the lives of generations of one family … 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
  • Invisible Child is hands down the best book I have read in years. Astonishing, remarkable, shocking, powerful, gripping, compelling. All of these words apply and more. This is a book of immense importance, written with tremendous craft and skill, but also compassion and verve . . . For those who have not read Invisible Child I am jealous, you are in for an extraordinary ride. Simply put, this is a masterpiece.

    Thomas Harding, bestselling author of Hanns and Rudolf and The House by the Lake
  • 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
  • A wonderful and important book.

    Tracy Kidder
  • “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

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