"Invisible Child" By Andrea Elliott
Note: This is an encore edition of Reader's Corner. The episode originally aired in January 2022.
The story of the American Dream, of pulling oneself out of poverty is as old as the story of our country’s founding. But what if leaving poverty means leaving behind your family?
Andrea Elliott’s debut, Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival, and Hope in an American City, revolves around this excruciating question. Covering eight formative years in the life of a fiercely intelligent and imaginative young girl in a Brooklyn homeless shelter, Invisible Child intertwines the story of Dasani Coates’ childhood with the history of her family, including the passage of their ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani comes of age, she’s forced to lead her siblings through a city racked with hunger, violence, and addiction, amidst a homeless crisis in New York that’s further widened the gap between rich and poor. But when Dasani is offered the opportunity to escape this turmoil and enroll in a boarding school, she’s faced with a question no child should have to answer.
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. Invisible Child is her first book.