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Sitdown Sunday: 'The extraordinary story of how I found my parents'

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Gender roles

shutterstock_481660729 Source: Shutterstock/John Arehart

A survey of young people says that there are many ways to be a girl – but is there just one way to be a boy?

(New York Times, approx 10 mins reading time)

When boys and girls were asked about their goals and aspirations, the responses were similar. Three-quarters said having a successful career was very important. A third of respondents or less, of either gender, said marrying or having children was a very important goal. Girls were as likely as boys to say math or science was their favorite subject, and to have considered running for office. They said they were mostly treated fairly compared with boys.

2. Death in a van

Two women with mental health issues are brought in a van to a facility – but they’re brought during Hurricane Florence. The van gets caught in floods, and the women drown. Here, their families talk about the shocking event.

(New York Times, approx 10 mins reading time)

For the families of the two dead women, there was one big question: How could the state take someone in, ostensibly to make her better, to protect her even from herself — and then let her drown by the side of a highway? “Why the hell would they leave a safe, dry area to go to God knows what?” asked Allison Newton, Wendy Newton’s daughter. “Something feels wrong about this.”

3. The extraordinary story of how I found my parents

shutterstock_618378791 Source: Shutterstock/Zbitnev

Nguyen Quoc Tuy was brought to an orphanage at just seven days old. He was born during the Vietnam war and was later adopted by an American family. Here’s how he found his parents again.

(BBC, approx 24 mins reading time)

“We wanted a large family,” says Thomas, “but at that time, there was a lot of talk about the planet’s growing population. We decided to bring only one kid into the world ourselves, because there were so many other children needing families.”

4. The pretend billionaire 

Jho Low said he was a billionaire, and helped arrange parties for Hollywood celebrities. But then he vanished.

(Vice, approx 11 mins reading time)

With the kind of money Low was throwing around, he was well past living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. At the moment when everything began falling apart, he was in talks to do some pretty big deals—including buying a big stake in the fashion label Tom Ford. He was also getting closer to the halls of political power in the US and becoming interested in that kind of influence globally. It’s hard to imagine where he’d be now had the whole thing not come crashing down.

5. Everything you know about obesity is wrong

shutterstock_1178153827 Source: Shutterstock/beeboys

It’s time for a new way of thinking about weight and obesity, says this writer, taking in the history of weight and ways we should challenge our approach to it.

(Highline, approx 37 mins reading time)

The emotional costs are incalculable. I have never written a story where so many of my sources cried during interviews, where they double- and triple-checked that I would not reveal their names, where they shook with anger describing their interactions with doctors and strangers and their own families. One remembered kids singing “Baby Beluga” as she boarded the school bus, another said she has tried diets so extreme she has passed out and yet another described the elaborate measures he takes to keep his spouse from seeing him naked in the light. 

6. A warning from Europe

A look at the recent political events in America, and how they are very familiar to people in Europe. That’s according to this writer, who reflects on his life in Poland and what it tells us about democracy.

(The Atlantic, approx 49 mins reading time)

I have not, for example, had a single conversation with a woman who was once one of my closest friends, the godmother of one of my children—let’s call her Marta—since a hysterical phone call in April 2010, a couple of days after a plane carrying the then-president crashed near Smolensk, in Russia. In the intervening years, Marta has grown close to Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Law and Justice and the late president’s twin brother. She regularly hosts lunches for him at her apartment and discusses whom he should appoint to his cabinet. I tried to see her recently in Warsaw, but she refused. “What would we talk about?” she texted me, and then went silent.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Breck Bednar was murdered by a young man who groomed him online. Next year, a film will be released by police – in cooperation with his family – that shows how he was groomed and how young boys can be in danger. Here, his mother Lorin LaFave talks about her son.

(The Guardian, approx 14 mins reading time)

As the months passed, Dayne’s presence loomed larger. “I’d get a lot of ‘Lewis says …’,” Lorin says. “‘Lewis says I don’t need to finish school as he can get me a Microsoft apprenticeship when I turn 16.’ ‘Lewis says as I don’t drink or smoke and do well in school, I should be allowed to game as long as I want …’”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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