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

Random. Oct. 2021. 624p. ISBN 9780812986945. $30. SOC SCI
Expanding on her five-part series on child homelessness that appeared in the New York Times in 2013, this absorbing debut by Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Elliott follows Dasani, the oldest of eight siblings, between 2012 and 2020. She also traces Dasani’s ancestors, who left North Carolina during the Great Migration and settled in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Excluded from benefiting from the GI bill, Dasani’s veteran grandfather ended up in public housing in Fort Greene. It is here in Fort Greene, a neighborhood undergoing gentrification, where Dasani and her family find themselves in a homeless shelter, always on a waiting list for affordable housing. Elliott documents the toll of poverty on Dasani’s parents, who both struggle with opioid addiction and navigate housing insecurity, moving from one shelter to another. Uncovering the invisibility of child homelessness in New York City, Elliott tells how the city’s school system, the largest in the United States, is also one of the most segregated. Life changes for Dasani when she is accepted to a boarding school in Pennsylvania, but at what cost to her fractured family?
VERDICT An unforgettable account, both heartrending and heartbreaking, of structural racism and inequality. Like Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, Elliott’s tour de force is destined to become a classic.
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