For nine years, New York Times journalist Andrea Elliott followed the fortunes of one family living in poverty. In this extract from her new book, Invisible Child, we meet Dasani Coates in 2012, aged 11 and living in a shelter
She wakes to the sound of breathing. The smaller children lie tangled under coats and wool blankets, their chests rising and falling in the dark. They have yet to stir. Their sister is always first. She looks around the room, seeing only silhouettes – the faint trace of a chin or brow, lit from the street below. Mice scurry across the floor. Roaches crawl to the ceiling. A little sink drips and drips, sprouting mould from a rusted pipe.
A few feet away is the yellow mop bucket they use as a toilet, and the mattress where the mother and father sleep, clutched. Radiating out from them in all directions are the eight children they share: two boys and five girls whose beds zigzag around the baby, her crib warmed by a hairdryer perched on a milk crate.