The Invisible Child by Andrea Elliott book review

In 2013, New York Times journalist Andrea Elliott wrote a series of articles about a girl named Dasani who lived with her parents and seven siblings in a cockroach-infested room at a Brooklyn homeless shelter, Ted Conover said in The Washington Post.

Elliott knew she’d found a remarkable subject in Dasani – a bright, charismatic 11-year-old who loved to dance and backflip, but whose days began emptying the bucket her family used as a toilet. And so she followed her and her “extremely vulnerable” African American family over the next seven years.

The result is invisible child, a work of immersive social reportage that ranks among the finest examples of the genre. In the 600 or so pages of this meticulous book, a horrifying truth is revealed: Dasani’s family – “and people like them” – are “stuck” in an endless cycle of poverty and “structural racism”.

At one point, Dasani seems temptingly looking for something better, Christina Patterson said in The Sunday Times: She wins a scholarship to a boarding school for disadvantaged children and “thrives” there for a while. But without Dasani to take care of them all, the family falls apart. Chanel, her mother, succumbs to opioid addiction; Dasani’s siblings are taken care of. Feeling guilty and missing her mother, Dasani starts misbehaving at her school and eventually gets expelled from the school. It wasn’t until she returned to her mother that her behavior began to improve.

Elliott has won a number of awards for her reporting, and it’s easy to see why. “Your characters are so alive that they jump out of the pages. The prose gushes. The dialogue is sizzling.” This is truly a “great” book, one that is certainly destined to become “a classic alongside those of the likes of Studs Terkel and George Orwell”.

Hutchinson Heinemann 624 p. £16.99; The bookstore of the week £13.99

book cover of The Invisible Child

The bookstore of the week

To order this title or any other printed book, please visit speak to a bookseller on 020-3176 3835. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 9am-5.30pm and Sunday 10am-4pm. The Invisible Child by Andrea Elliott book review

Fry Electronics Team

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