Check It Out: Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival, and Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott
This is Jennifer Havlik with the Sioux City Public Library, and you’re listening to Check it Out.
Today I’m recommending Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival, and Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott. Initially written as a five-part series in the New York Times starting in 2013 and named one of Time Magazine’s best nonfiction books of 2021, Invisible Child follows Dasani Coates and her large family through eight years of poverty in New York City.
Named after the bottled water that, in the mind of her mother, signified the gentrification of Brooklyn, Dasani is the center of this coming-of-age narrative. In and out of shelters for most of her childhood, Invisible Child highlights both the obvious and hidden challenges of poverty through Dasani’s eyes. Getting her siblings ready for school while their mother is high, navigating public transportation with her siblings, surviving a school day on an empty stomach, and coming home to live with nine other people in a room of 400 square feet is just the beginning. She loves and dotes on her family, so when the opportunity comes to attend a boarding school out of state, Dasani struggles with the choice. Does abandoning poverty mean leaving your family? And can the cycle ever really stop?
While the story is primarily Dasani’s, Invisible Child highlights larger issues of inequality, the family court system and foster care, racism, gentrification, mental health, street drugs, and gang violence. Filled with twists and turns of both triumph and hopelessness, Invisible Child will take you on an eye-opening ride through poverty in America and the lives of blameless children that get caught in it.
You can find Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival, and Hope in an American City at the Sioux City Public Library and on the Libby by Overdrive app.
Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.