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Big Stories

13 Of Our Favorite Personal Essays We Published This Year

A woman who confronted her abusive stepfather. A man who bought a house in Detroit for $500. A 33-year-old who suffered and survived a stroke. Reflections on love, loss, and life in these great essays.

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Why I Bought a House in Detroit For $500 — Drew Philp

hotograph by Mike Williams

After college, as his friends left Michigan for better opportunities, Drew Philp was determined to help fix his broken, chaotic city by building his own home in the middle of it. He was 23 years old.


Piecing Together My Abusive Ex-Boyfriend’s Final Summer — Leigh Stein

Jenny Chang/BuzzFeed

Leigh Stein thought if she could figure out why he’d stabbed someone, then died in a motorcycle crash, she'd be able to find closure with their abusive relationship. But the story of his death was just as complicated as that of his life.


How Madewell Bought and Sold My Family's History — Dan Nosowitz

Dan Nosowitz / BuzzFeed

In 1937, Dan Nosowitz's great-grandfather started a workwear company in New England called Madewell. In 2006, 17 years after the last factory shut down, J.Crew relaunched a women’s clothing company with the same name and logo, based on a 50-year history in which it had no part.

The Strange, Isolated Life of a Tuberculosis Patient in the 21st Century — Natalie Shure

llustration by Ashley Mackenzie for BuzzFeed

While volunteering for the Peace Corps in Ukraine in 2010, Natalie Shure contracted a severe version of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Two years of painful, isolating treatment taught her the vital role social media may play in finally eradicating this disease.

My Stepfather, the Peeping Tom — Michelle Tea

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed

Michelle Tea's mother’s husband confessed to having spied on her in her bedroom and bathroom years ago. Figuring out how to maintain a relationship with him — and with her mother — has been traumatic, even if they don’t consider it sexual abuse.

How I Escaped a Kidnapping Attempt in Yemen — Gregory D. Johnsen

Illustration by Sam Kalda for BuzzFeed

Yemen was like a home away from home for Gregory D. Johnsen — until the day he was nearly abducted in broad daylight. How having narrowly missed suffering a grim fate has affected his relationship with that country.