My friend Jessica Ravitz Cherof has a knack for telling richly human stories — the kind where uncertainty and shades of gray suggest the depth, and variety, of hard-earned experience.
Among her wonderful pieces are one on Aesha, an Afghan woman whose face was disfigured by violence; and a look at spiritual struggles, which found as many questions as answers when she went off to Rishikesh, India, to face some of her own.
Paulette Leaphart gained a modicum of fame for announcing she was going to walk from her home in Mississippi to Washington, D.C., topless, to raise awareness for breast cancer. Leaphart had had a double mastectomy and was catnip to many journalists looking for a feel-good story. Who could argue with such heroics?
Jessica, too, thought Leaphart had a wonderful story and accompanied her in North Carolina for a day to gather background.
But Leaphart wasn’t quite what she seemed. As Jessica wrote:
Some stories land on a journalist’s plate like manna from heaven. They’re perfect morsels you can’t wait to share. Others arrive a mess of ingredients with no recipe to follow. This one started the first way and finished the other.
As Jessica dug into Leaphart’s personal history, the feel-good story turned into something more … well, let’s say awkward. Was Leaphart whom she said she was? Yes — and no.
I’m not going to spoil it for you. Just be prepared for surprises.
You can find “The Naked Truth” here.