Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Review: You All Grow Up & Leave Me

I wanted to review this one because the premise is so much like what we've seen in the news within the last couple of years- teachers running away with their students. It's so bizarre, it makes it fascinating.

You All Grow Up and Leave Me - Piper Weiss

A highly unsettling blend of true crime and coming-of-age memoir— The Stranger Beside Me meets Prep—that presents an intimate and thought-provoking portrait of girlhood within Manhattan’s exclusive prep-school scene in the early 1990s, and a thoughtful meditation on adolescent obsession and the vulnerability of youth.

Piper Weiss was fourteen years old when her middle-aged tennis coach, Gary Wilensky, one of New York City’s most prestigious private instructors, killed himself after a failed attempt to kidnap one of his teenage students. In the aftermath, authorities discovered that this well-known figure among the Upper East Side tennis crowd was actually a frightening child predator who had built a secret torture chamber—a "Cabin of Horrors"—in his secluded rental in the Adirondacks.

Before the shocking scandal broke, Piper had been thrilled to be one of "Gary’s Girls." "Grandpa Gary," as he was known among his students, was different from other adults—he treated Piper like a grown-up, taking her to dinners, engaging in long intimate conversations with her, and sending her special valentines. As reporters swarmed her private community in the wake of Wilensky’s death, Piper learned that her mentor was a predator with a sordid history of child stalking and sexual fetish. But why did she still feel protective of Gary, and why was she disappointed that he hadn’t chosen her?

Now, twenty years later, Piper examines the event as both a teenage eyewitness and a dispassionate investigative reporter, hoping to understand and exorcise the childhood memories that haunt her to this day. Combining research, interviews, and personal records, You All Grow Up and Leave Me explores the psychological manipulation by child predators—their ability to charm their way into seemingly protected worlds—and the far-reaching effects their actions have on those who trust them most. 

This one was kind of hard for me to get through and I'll be honest, I could have put it down by the mid point and called it good because I just couldn't get into it. Though I finished it, it felt kind of pointless. The book is kind of odd and uncomfortable in a lot of ways and that's saying something for me because I'll read most anything. There are large chunks of this book that feels pointless and could be taken out, it took so long to get to the dramatics of the story that it's hard to get (and stay) engaged.

What was interesting is that the question that basically spurred the book was "why not her?". Why was she not the attempted kidnapping victim? What was it about that particular student and not her that would lead a man to throw his life away? It is a true crime story memoir so if you're a fan of that, you likely will enjoy this book a lot. Or if you are a fan of the early 90's tennis scene you might relate to all of the references and information about it.

It just reminded me of that recent case where a teacher abducted his student who he was in love with and seemingly held her hostage. I will never understand what sends people over the edge like that.

Overall the book was just OK for me. It wasn't great but it wasn't awful because once we get into the meat of it, I perked up, it just took awhile to get there. The writing feels like we're wandering aimlessly sometimes and that makes it hard to stick with. But this would be an interesting book to pick apart at a book club or discussion group because there were so many opportunities this guy had to do this with any of this students but he picked this one girl for a reason. She fought back but I wonder if in hindsight he thought of another student who probably wouldn't have fought back? What if that girl never did fight back, do you think he would have continued picking students? It's strange because I guess we'll never really know how the human mind works in these situations.

I'm giving this one a solid 3 stars. I would have given it 2 but the true crime aspect of it was fascinating for me even if the memoir aspect didn't grab me as much.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for your honest review for the tour.