The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

This week, we’re sharing stories from Sarah Smith, Mattathias Schwartz, John Woodrow Cox, Justin Heckert, and Jonah Weiner.

This week, we’re sharing stories from Sarah Smith, Mattathias Schwartz, John Woodrow Cox, Justin Heckert, and Jonah Weiner.

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1. ‘What Are We Going to Do About Tyler?’

Sarah Smith | ProPublica | December 28, 2017 | 41 minutes (10,280 words)

A devastating indictment of America’s failure to treat mental illness. ProPublica reporter Sarah Smith tells the story of Tyler Haire, who was sent to jail at age 16 for a violent crime and then spent years locked away while waiting for a psychological evaluation. Tyler struggled since early childhood, but state services are underfunded and only designed to help when a crisis occurs. His family, frustrated and exhausted, was unable to find a way for him to get the help he needed — until it was too late.

2. Maria’s Bodies

Mattathias Schwartz | New York Magazine | December 22, 2017 | 32 minutes (8,031 words)

Nearly one hundred days after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, at least half of the island’s 3.4 million inhabitants still struggle to survive without electricity. The reason: the hurricane was a natural disaster, but the way the government let Puerto Rico’s infrastructure degrade set this vulnerable impoverished population up for a manmade disaster. Without electricity, food and medicine spoil, clean water can’t circulate, hospitals can’t function, vital information can’t disseminate, and Puerto Rican suffering increases.

3. ‘I Want It to Stop’

John Woodrow Cox | Washington Post | December 27, 2017 | 14 minutes (3,637 words)

Fifteen-year-old Ruben Urbina suffered from depression and attempted suicide multiple times. His friends and family members pleaded with him to get help. But one morning, Ruben couldn’t handle it anymore and called the police to falsely report that he had a bomb strapped to his chest.

4. The Photographer

Justin Heckert | Pacific Standard | December 21, 2017 | 14 minutes (3,539 words)

Justin Heckert profiles Anthony Carbajal, a 28-year-old photographer with the inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Before the disease slowly robs him of his ability to move, to swallow, and to breathe, Anthony is making the most of now by inventing hacks to allow him to make photographs. “I like to live in the present,” he said, “About 90 percent of the time, I’m looking forward to the time I do have.”

5. Kenji Dreams of Sausage

Jonah Weiner | Grubstreet | December 26, 2017 | 16 minutes (4,000 words)

A profile of beloved food writer J. Kenji López-Alt, who uses science to perfect cooking methods and is opening a beer hall in Silicon Valley.