Andrea Elliott is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who has documented the lives of poor Americans, Muslim immigrants and other people on the margins of power. She is an investigative reporter for The New York Times and the author of Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival, and Hope in an American City, which won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction.
Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani Coates, a child with an imagination as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn homeless shelter. Born at the turn of a new century, Dasani is named for the bottled water that comes to symbolize Brooklyn’s gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. As Dasani grows up, moving with her tight-knit family from shelter to shelter, this story goes back to trace the passage of Dasani’s ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north. By the time Dasani comes of age, New York City’s homeless crisis is exploding as the chasm deepens between rich and poor. In the shadows of this new Gilded Age, Dasani must lead her seven siblings through a thicket of problems: hunger, parental drug addiction, violence, housing instability, segregated schools, and the constant monitoring of the child-protection system. When, at age thirteen, Dasani enrolls at a boarding school in Pennsylvania, her loyalties are tested like never before. As she learns to “code switch” between the culture she left behind and the norms of her new town, Dasani starts to feel like a stranger in both places. Ultimately, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning the family you love?
By turns heartbreaking and revelatory, provocative and inspiring, Invisible Child tells an astonishing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family, and the cost of inequality. Based on nearly a decade of reporting, this book vividly illuminates some of the most critical issues in contemporary America through the life of one remarkable girl.
“Unflinching, tenacious reporting… A vivid and devastating story of American inequality.”
—Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted
Elliott is also the recipient of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, a George Polk award, an Overseas Press Club Award and was awarded a 2007 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. In 2023, she joined Princeton University as a visiting lecturer and Ferris Professor of Journalism. In 2015, she was awarded Columbia University’s Medal for Excellence, given to one alumnus under the age of 45. She has also received honorary doctorates from Occidental College and from Niagara University, which cited her “courage, perseverance, and a commitment to fairness for those without a public voice rarely demonstrated among writers today.”
Elliott came to The New York Times from The Miami Herald, where she covered crime, immigration and Latin American politics. Raised in Washington, D.C. by a Chilean mother and an American father, she attended Occidental College before earning a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.