Invisible Child follows eight years in the life of a homeless girl named Dasani. Elliott weaves the story of Dasani's childhood with the history of her family, tracing the passage of their ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. As Dasani comes of age, the homeless crisis in New York City has exploded amid the deepening chasm between rich and poor.
Invisible Child...goes well beyond her original reporting in both journalistic excellence and depth of insight. Elliott spent eight years working on the book, following Dasani and her family virtually everywhere ... The reporting has an intimate, almost limitless feel to it, the firsthand observations backed up by some 14,000 pages of official documents, from report cards to drug tests to city records secured through Freedom of Information Law requests. The result of this unflinching, tenacious reporting is a rare and powerful work whose stories will live inside you long after you’ve read them ... When a story catches fire, we can easily mistake a cultural moment for concrete policy change, as if we could simply speak a new world into existence ... Elliott attunes herself to the family’s frequency, noticing what teachers and social workers often miss: the secret language of sisters, the subtle ways Dasani trammels herself to uplift her mother. One vivid scene follows another, written in the present tense ... At times, this can result in some awkward syntax, but overall it works, lending the prose moral urgency ... We cannot understand that which we refuse to see, and Elliott forces us to look, to reckon with Chanel’s full humanity, to take in Dasani’s pain and beauty — to watch her grow up.
Stunning ... 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. Elliott skillfully portrays Dasani’s experiences ... Woven into Dasani’s tale is her scrupulously reported ancestral lineage, which allows Elliott to unveil the story of a country grappling with an enduring legacy of slavery, racism, and destitution ... Though the narrative centers on the inevitability of these cycles, Elliott manages to incorporate moments of profound hope and togetherness throughout. This is a remarkable achievement that speaks to the heart and conscience of a nation.
An immersive portrait ... In this moving but occasionally flat narrative, Elliott follows Dasani for eight years ... Elliott’s account of the tumult resembles a series of stitched-together newspaper articles; it’s heroically researched but tends to give each incident a similar emotional weight, whether involving a murder or a harmless gender-reveal party. The book is at least 100 pages too long ... A more selective chronicle might have given this important book a better chance to find the audience its urgent message deserves ... A poignant but overlong story of an impoverished girl’s efforts to survive a turbulent childhood.