1. My Childhood in an Apocalyptic Cult By Flor Edwards Illustration by Jesse Lucas
A clandestine cult with twenty children to a room, no outside music, movies or books, and no contact beyond the compound. For the first fifteen years of my life,
this was my normal. “This is exactly the kind of story we’re always hoping to find; an in-depth look into a secret world readers would never have access to otherwise.” – Lilly O’Donnell, Deputy Editor & Community Manager
2. The Ins & The Outs By Vinnie Rotondaro & Maura Ewing Photo by Mo Scarpelli
Along one of New York’s most rapidly changing boulevards,
a look below the surface exposes what — and who — is really driving gentrification in Crown Heights. “When Vinnie first pitched an article about gentrification in Crown Heights, I believe I rolled my eyes. The changing face of New York’s neighborhoods is as old a story as the city itself, and reporting on this topic rarely reveals any real new angle. But Vinnie and Maura came back with something more. They spent six months exploring what was going on not only on the surface but underneath it. They showed how the change was not an unstoppable force of nature but unearthed the true drivers behind it.” – Brendan Spiegel, Co-Founder & Editorial Director
3. Legends Never Die By Caroline Rothstein Photo courtesy Gunars Elmuts
Two decades after a low-budget film turned Washington Square skaters into international celebrities,
the kids from “Kids” struggle with lost lives, distant friendships, and the fine art of growing up. “I don’t think any of us were too expectant that Caroline would deliver on her admirably ambitious, nostalgia-fueled promise to track down the ‘Kids from ‘Kids’ — but most of us, having watched the ’90s classic with our mouths full of metal and our minds waiting to be blown by a band of NYC toughs, were excited to let her try. It’s safe to say Caroline is the one who did the mind-blowing. Up until just recently, her piece remained Narratively’s most popular story of all time, and it was the backbone for our first print mag, which has been distributed across the world.” – Noah Rosenberg, Founder, CEO & Editor-in-Chief
4. Searching for the Nazi Who Saved My Mother’s Life By Karen Kirsten Illustration by Vinnie Neuberg
Among my family’s many wartime secrets is the shocking story of the SS officer who rescued my mother as a toddler and hid her in a Polish convent.
I fixated on tracking down this Nazi torturer eager to learn more about his surprising act of kindness. “This is the ultimate example of a reported memoir. The writer recounted passed-down family tales, but also did the legwork of backing them up with research.” – Lilly
5. Nick Brown Smelled Bull By Vinnie Rotondaro Illustration by Kevin Huizenga
A plucky amateur
dared to question a celebrated psychological finding. He wound up blowing the whole theory wide open. “Remarkably written, inspirational and controversial. I was so happy this became one of our most popular stories ever because it deserved to be.” – Michael Stahl, Features Editor
6. The Joe + Heidi Show By Lilly O’Donnell Photo courtesy Lilly O’Donnell
From art studios to strip clubs and drug dens, a young woman sifts through handwritten letters and distant memories to
trace the tumultuous path of her parents’ marriage.
7. A Super Strange True Love Story By Annalisa Merelli & Riol Dankó Illustration by Ayun Halliday
After years of avoiding love,
I found a match that seemed almost too perfect. We were practically walking down the aisle before I realized it really was too good to be true. “A remarkable chance to hear two sides of a heartbreaking story from two women whose lives were both upended by the same man.” – Brendan
8. The Man Who Got America High By Jeff Maysh Illustration by Naomi Elliott
He chartered the Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead in private jets, while smuggling planeloads of Pablo Escobar’s drugs on the side. After disappearing for decades,
Alfred Dellentash Jr. finally shares his unbelievable life story — for the very first time. “A thrilling and nail-biting profile about a man whose life story is like seven incredible life stories all rolled into one.” – Brendan
9. The Day My Therapist Dared Me to Have Sex With Her By Michael Stahl Illustration by Casey Roonan
My analyst and I grew more intimately connected each week of treatment…but
I never saw this indecent proposal coming.
10. Beating and Bleeding for Christ Photo by Andrea de Franciscis
Defying objections from church and state alike,
the men of one small Italian village carry on an 800-year-old tradition, one vicious self-inflicted wound at a time. “I think we showed some guts in publishing these photos. They’re not easy to look at.” – Michael
11. When a Father’s Son Becomes His Daughter By Meredith Ramirez Talusan Illustration by Esther Hong
My domineering dad stood by me during my gender transition,
but I didn’t truly become a woman until I finally stood up to him. “This was a nuanced, compassionate take on a divisive topic. Meredith neither vilified nor sanctified her father, but portrayed their relationship with the complexities and conflicts of reality.” – Lilly
12. Toxic Gumbo Photo by Giles Clarke/Getty Images Reportage
The waterway linking Gulf Coast oil with the refineries of Baton Rouge has brought great prosperity to Louisiana. But
the people living in “Cancer Alley” have a different story to tell. “It’s one of those remarkable, compelling stories that makes you ask ‘how has this not been reported on?’ Giles Clarke knew this story like the back of his hand and was so dedicated to getting it told.” – Chelsea Stahl, Photo Editor
13. Just Like Clock Work By Emon Hassan Image by Emon Hassan
Master horologist John Metcalfe takes us
inside his “hospital for clocks,” a precisely-tuned world where time never stops. “For several years, this was the piece I showed people when I wanted them to instantly understand the brand of just-around-the-corner storytelling we’re so passionate about at Narratively. It’s folks like John Metcalfe who truly embody our ‘ordinary people, extraordinary stories’ ethos; don’t look up, don’t climb that set of steps up to Mr. Metcalfe’s perfectly cluttered world, and you’ll never know it’s there. But we can take you there by sharing his story.” – Noah
14. Planning My Father-Daughter Dance Without My Dad By Lilly O’Donnell Photo courtesy Lilly O’Donnell
Each day my perfect trip down the aisle grows closer, my mind wanders ever closer to my father, who, even in death, is teaching me that
grief doesn’t have to overshadow joy.
15. The Night My Parents Had Me Kidnapped By Kenneth R. Rosen Illustration by Andrew Standeven
Two strangers dragged me from bed in the middle of the night and
drove me into the woods. But this wasn’t a random abduction — just my first step into the world of controversial boot camps for troubled teens.
16. The Race to Save the Baby With ‘Two Heads’ By Brennan O’Connor Photo by Brennan O’Connor
A rare birth defect leaves
a Myanmar newborn with a dangerous bulge growing from her head. When local doctors say there’s nothing they can do, her desperate parents scrape together the funds for an epic journey to save her life.
17. The Voices in My Brother’s Head By Maria Lazzati Image courtesy Maria Lazzati
After schizophrenia upended a young man’s life,
the notes he left behind offer clues to the horrors that haunted his mind.
18. The Magic Poop Potion By Lina Zeldovich Illustration by Laurel Lynn Leake
Indiana grandma killed off a devastating superbug with a homemade fecal transplant and then embarked on a crusade to win over the FDA.
19. Stop-And-Frisk’s Fiercest Foe By Sara Maria Glanowski Photo by Sara Maria Glanowski
As New York’s minority communities fume over the controversial crime-fighting tactic known as stop-and-frisk,
one camera-wielding ex-con makes it his mission to catch the cops in action. “I’m not sure we’ve ever published a story more ahead of its time than this one.” – Michael
20. Love and Laughter in a Time of ISIS By Marieke van der Velden Photo by Marieke van der Velden
From the thrill of amusement parks to the bustle of beauty salons, a wartime photographer discovers that even amid the chaos and calamity of endless conflict,
life in Iraq still goes on.