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You All Grow Up and Leave Me: A Memoir of Teenage Obsession

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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.

368 pages, ebook

First published April 10, 2018

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Piper Weiss

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 354 reviews
Profile Image for Nina.
842 reviews218 followers
April 3, 2023
I’m really impressed by this blend of true crime and memoir. Piper writes beautifully, and I learnt so much about grooming and really felt I understood the complex feelings associated with abuse.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,453 reviews7,563 followers
November 7, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

You All Grow Up And Leave Me popped up on the library’s Recommended To You feature due to me reading I’ll Be Gone In The Dark – a book I didn’t much care for at all, if the truth be told . . . .

Save your breath. I get it. I read it wrong and McNamara was not only a genius, but also this close to DNA swabbing the perp herself and solving the whole shebang. Whatever. I didn’t like it. I still downloaded this book, however, because . . . .

The funny thing is, I disliked I’ll Be Gone In the Dark due to it being so indulgent and lacking in content with regard to the subject matter it claimed to be tackling. This one is nothing but indulgent and no real “crime” actually took place . . . .

I know. Same here. Yeah, the intended victim (and her mother) were able to fight the attacker off and then he killed himself. Sorry, spoiler alert. Point being, if you are looking for a true crime story look elsewhere. If you are a firm believer that . . . .

This might be a memoir for you.
Profile Image for Tess Taylor.
192 reviews13 followers
June 25, 2018
1- You All Grow Up and Leave Me is not a true crime novel. About 90% of the book is Piper Weiss’s meandering memories about growing up rich in 1990’s Manhattan. It’s hard to follow because there is no timeline to speak of. This "memoir" is just a collection random moments of her life and feelings she felt and penises she saw.

Most of the book has absolutely nothing to with Gary Wilensky, the tennis instructor who attacked and attempted to kidnap one of his teenage students (not Weiss) and subsequently killed himself. The parts that do are just the author remembering all the times she rode shotgun in his car. It’s incredibly boring. The book is crippled by self-importance and filler, and the writing is pretty bad in a high school creative writing class kind of way.

I have a hard time understanding why this is a book at all, or why readers should care about this woman. It feels like Weiss wanted to write a book about herself, and used a tragic event enacted by someone she knew as an excuse for why her life is interesting. But none of this was interesting.

Weiss didn't have anything to do with Wilensky’s unfortunate actions. She was not a victim. She’s just trying to put herself in the middle of something that has nothing to do with her. It’s exploitive in the most self-centered way.
Profile Image for Ellen Gail.
839 reviews377 followers
April 9, 2018
For me, the life and death of Gary Wilensky took place over one year, the same period my own mind became the most dangerous it has ever been. At some point both our stories nearly overlapped, though not entirely and certainly not neatly.

2.5 stars. This strange true crime memoir is going to polarize a lot of people I think.

Tennis was very on trend in the 90s. It was the chic thing to do, particularly if you were a well off Upper East-Sider. And in the early 90s, Piper Weiss was just that. At 14 she was training with Gary Wilensky, the premier private tennis coach, known for his ridiculous antics and prizes he offered to his students.

But in the spring of 1993, Gary Wilensky would become known for something else.

New York Times, April 1993

"Grampa Gary" had another side his teenage pupils hadn't seen. 56 year old Wilensky attacked one of his 17 year old students and her mother with a cattle prod, intending on bringing the object of his obsession to a remote cabin he had filled with bondage, porn, and unspeakable nightmares. The newspapers would call it a "Cabin of Horrors."

For all of his meticulous preparation, he wasn't prepared for his target to fight back. There would be NO taking either of these women anywhere.

Just hours after his failure, with the police close behind him, Wilensky shot and killed himself in a parking lot. And just like that, the world knew what he really was; a predator.

But for 14 year old Weiss, she knew Gary as someone else. How could funny, goofy Gary be the same person? How could he do this to a girl he claimed was one of his favorites?

And the question that nags her still 20 years later - why not her?

There is a study that claims the teenage brain develops at the rate of a baby's brain - which is to say, the fastest rate it will ever grow. The difference the second time around is that you are both physically mobile and mentally more aware. You know that something is happening within you but not within your control. This is your new body, you're told, but don't touch it. Don't use it yet. It's dangerous.

You All Grow Up and Leave Me is perhaps more memoir than true crime. Wilensky's actions are secondary to the turmoil of a teenage mind. Weiss's youth was troubled to put it simply, and in her tennis coach she found someone who understood her, who treated her like an adult and not just and angsty teen. Gary understood her depression, her need for validation. She found someone who was grooming her, though of course she couldn't understand this at the time.

So why not her? She was in his car plenty of times. He frequently gave his students rides home from practice.

How do you deal with being an "almost victim" of someone you thought the world of?

This is what You All Grow Up and Leave Me does well. It's very relatable, that sense of what could have happened, of how close you were to something you may have never known could've harmed you. When you look back, everything is tinted with the muck of almost, even what seemed harmless and fun. (whatever the opposite of rose colored glasses is I guess? dark sunglasses maybe?)

Unfortunately, what didn't work for me was the writing. And when you don't like the writing it's very difficult to like the book as a whole. It's very much a love it or hate it thing. Abby comes down on the positive side, so if you want to read a review that liked this more than me, head that direction!

That sense of adolescent directionlessness is very present. It feels at times like it's wandering, which might be the point? Weiss was set adrift, both by her dangerous and problematic teenage years, and by her relationship with Wilensky. Unfortunately, this lack of focus and power made it difficult for me to really get 100% immersed in the story.

Overall, I don't know if I'd recommend this one or not. There's a great and extremely personal story being told within the pages. The true-crime elements are tastefully done. But it's really a tossup as to whether you'll like the writing and the way the chapters are structured.

By all means, don't let my mild dislike / ambivalence turn you away. If you think you'd like this one, give it a shot, especially if you like your true crime to have a personal touch.

*All quotations are from a digital arc and are subject to change in the finished copy*
Thanks to William Morrow and Edelweiss for the drc!
Profile Image for Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine).
189 reviews223 followers
April 19, 2018
You can read this and all of my reviews at Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for You All Grow Up and Leave Me. I was immediately drawn in by the blurb and cover. The true crime buff in me couldn’t resist this book about a young women’s experience with Gary Wilensky, a child predator who preyed on the young of Manhattan’s elite families in the 1990’s.

I have to be honest. This book is a tough one for me to review. There were many things that I really liked about it. For example, the pacing was steady. I always love books set in Manhattan, particularly in the 1980’s and 90’s. Ms. Weiss author is very open, honest, and introspective. I have a great deal of respect for anyone who can bare their soul in the ways that she does. This book provides a very unique look into how a criminal like Wilensky was able victimize a young girl, even as she grew into a woman, despite the fact that she was not his “victim” in the sense that he never physically or sexually assaulted her.

Though I appreciated the author’s perspective, and the honesty with which she’s shared it, I must admit that I had some difficulty relating to her feelings and her ongoing preoccupation with Wilensky. The book’s description calls it “highly unsettling”. For me, this is spot-on. There were parts that made me, what I can only describe as, uncomfortable.

Based on the blurb, I was expecting to hear more about the actual case. I would have liked to read more about what the police uncovered about him. Although I suppose it’s possible, it’s difficult to believe he hadn’t gone beyond grooming his potential victims prior to the incident that ended with his suicide. I also expected there to be a bit more emphasis on Wilensky’s relationship with the victim know as The Daughter and what the impact to her life has been. The author did note that she requested an interview with her and was turned down.

I don’t normally say this about memoirs, or most nonfiction for that matter, but I think this would be an excellent book club selection. It’s one of those that will inspire lively discussion and debate, for sure!

3.5/5 stars

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Idarah.
464 reviews48 followers
November 15, 2018
"Stalking is how some men raise the stakes when women don't play along. It is a crime of power, control, and intimidation, very similar to date rape." —Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear

This was a really interesting book, and one that got me through my long flight(s) back home from Ireland. I'm honestly not sure how to rate it; I keep oscillating between 3 and 4 stars because it wasn't what I expected it to be, but it was actually quite good. It would have been good to know that this is really a coming of age memoir about a Jewish Upper Eastside teenager growing up in the early 90s. Private schools, wealth, privilege. It's such an unknown world to me, and it almost always fascinates me.

What I was expecting was a true crime read...and it sort of is, I guess. Weiss's tennis coach was a man with many issues—mainly that he was obsessed with pubescent children, and his rampage made national headlines when he attempted to kidnap one of his students.

What made for compelling reading was the author's awkward teenage years, and the milieu and social anxieties that shaped her. This memoir was written like a journalistic piece, but was aimed inwardly at the author, while she tried to sort out the person that she thought she knew and admired, and what he was ultimately portrayed to be. What does that make me, if I didn't hate him or wasn't afraid of him? What if I genuinely liked him?

"We look to survivors of trauma for personal insight into ourselves. We read their books, watch their network interviews, and try to isolate what it takes to overcome the unthinkable to survive...".
Profile Image for Krystin | TheF**kingTwist.
467 reviews1,733 followers
January 19, 2023
Book Blog | Bookstagram

This is the weirdest “true crime” novel I’ve ever read.

First, it’s mostly a memoir about someone who was not involved in any crime at all. And second, because the crime is an attempted crime. Spoiler alert, I guess? While I’m sure it was traumatizing for the women involved, in the context of a true-crime novel, nothing happened that could fill up an entire book. And what’s weirder, the author uses the attempted crime against someone else to question-plague herself for twenty+ years about why no one ever tried to kidnap and rape her.

Like, I just…

In the '90s, tennis was at peak popularity with the One Percenters. That included Piper Weiss, who at 14, was a Manhattan Upper-Eastsider à la Gossip Girl, and was training under Gary Wilensky, the premier private tennis coach.

Wilensky was known for being close with his young female students – sending them birthday cakes, Valentines and calling them regularly for personal conversations. I guess, in the ’90s people weren’t really aware of what “grooming” was, nor had the knowledge base to point out that what Wilensky was doing was beyond odd, more like pedophile psycho behaviour.

There was one family, however, the Rhodes, who felt Wilensky was seriously crossing a line. Their daughter, Jennifer, trained under Gary for eighteen months until they fired him for his creepy attention to Jennifer – constantly sending her cards and gifts. Little did they know, Gary was full-on obsessed with Jennifer.

On April 23, 1993, after a tennis match near Albany, NY, Jennifer and her mother arrived at their motel. Suddenly, a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and brandishing a cattle prod emerged from the dark and attacked Jennifer and her mother. Mrs. Rhodes fought back hard, pulling the man off of Jennifer. Jennifer managed to get away and started screaming for someone to help, to call 911.

The attacker then pulled a semi-automatic assault rifle on the two women, but so much attention had been stirred up at the motel, that the man got spooked and sped off in a white Lincoln. Two hours later, police officers spotted the suspect vehicle and began closing in, eventually cornering the car behind a store. As officers approach, the suspect put his gun to his head and killed himself.

It was Gary Wilensky.

During their investigation, authorities found a cabin in the woods, two hours north of Albany, where Wilensky had stocked more sex and bondage gear than anyone could need in one lifetime. Wilensky had paid the lease in advance for one year, leading police to believe he was intending to keep Jennifer there for that time. Also found in the cabin were night-vision goggles, stealth surveillance equipment, a bank of TV monitors connected to cameras around the property, wigs and new women’s clothing intended for Jennifer. He’d also sealed the cabin, boarding up windows and putting serious locks on the doors.

At his home in Manhattan, police found a plethora of lists. Everyone loves a list! One of the last notes Wilenskey wrote said, “Go to the ammo store, get heavy tape, get rope, get chains, get long knives, get security system, get sexy nightwear.”

I know it’s not funny, but it’s also funny. Get sexy nightwear has me rolling! The fucking DELUSION of this man! And was it for him or for her? Both? What even is sexy nightwear for men? Something silk? *shivers*

Police also found a bondage porno titled Jennifer’s Nightmare.

As someone who is very interested in true crime, this case - though it didn't pan out the way Gary wanted - is still royally fucked up psychologically and was 100% the reason I wanted to read this novel.

So, colour me bummed to find out that this novel treats the creepy psychology and attempted crimes of Gary Wilensky as secondary to the author's teenage angst and diary-like recollections of her childhood growing up rich. Fucking spare me.

And honestly, Wilensky’s crime and death weren’t even secondary, but more like a footnote. Everything I told you about him I learned from googling him after reading the book. You can find much more information about the case from a Newsweek article published in 1993 than you can from this book.

Wilensky’s attempted crime is really just an excuse for Weiss to talk about herself. About 90% of the book is about the author, but it comes without any real timeline, which I found somewhat hard to follow conceptually. It’s mostly just a mishmash of meandering memories from Weiss’ perspective – like the different penises she saw or how many times she rode in Wilensky’s car. It was – and I cannot stress this enough – fucking boring.

Obviously, Weiss knew Wilensky. She trained under him, had a friendship with him that she felt was special. She felt he “got” her more than any other adult and was oblivious to the fact that Wilensky was grooming her in all his attempts to connect with her. Because she was 14. Why would she have a clue? She just thought he was a good friend who gave her cards, gifts and was someone she could confide in.

So, she wasn't exactly traumatized, but if it was you, your friendship with a bondage-loving pedophile tennis coach would probably be something you would need to spend time finding closure for... but would you need to write a whole book?

I could understand that knowing it could have been you would be intense initially; knowing that you came so close to a monster. But, I struggle to find a reason why I should care about this woman or have to read a memoir of her life? Why was this a book, really? It’s like Weiss is using someone else’s trauma for her own ends. The questions and thoughts Weiss struggle with are not presented in an existential way about life and how close we can come to horrible things happening to us. Instead, the tone takes on a very gross “why not me?” vibe. Not, “Wow, that could have been me!” But instead, “Why her and not me?”

There’s this aspect to Weiss’ thoughts which posit that being the subject of Wilensky’s sick obsession would have been validating for her, and without that validation, she’s spent 20+ years being mildly consumed with Wilensky and why he didn't choose her to hold hostage in a rape cabin.

And that is… fucking stupid? Super fucking gross? Selfish? Insane? Like, honestly, WTF?

Weiss is not the victim and nothing about her life seems to really warrant a memoir. So by forcing herself into a traumatizing experience that was not hers, and then spending all her time wondering why she wasn’t good enough to be stalked and assaulted by a psychopath, this novel ends up feeling self-indulgent and tone-deaf, and frankly, kind of fucking nuts.

Not to mention, I hear Weiss originally tried to interview Jennifer Rhodes a couple of times in the hopes of writing a real true-crime novel but was turned down. Instead of scrapping the whole project because the real owner of the trauma didn't want to relive it, Weiss ended up writing about herself in a way that probably should have been kept between her and a therapist. If that’s true, my god woman, read the fucking room!

This book should not exist. That’s how I feel.

Fuck this.

⭐ | 1 Star
Profile Image for Valerity (Val).
957 reviews2,741 followers
September 8, 2018
This was a strange memoir about a 14-year-old who is taking tennis lessons from a man who is popular but troubled. She becomes close to him during a quiet moment when he confesses to her that he’s depressed and she shares that she is too. She tries to comfort him by saying she loves him and won’t grow up and leave him like the rest of his tennis students.

She has no way of knowing of his obsession with another student of his, and how he’ll be in the news because of it in the near future. It will end his career as a tennis teacher, and his life. It will also come back to bother her in the future. This was one of those things you can’t seem to put down until you finish reading, regardless of how you seem to feel about it. You want to see how it comes out. A rather unusual read. Piper seems to keep trying to making the story more about herself than the girl who was actually abducted, thus hijacking the story. This was an enjoyable memoir /coming-of-age story that I recently read by William Morrow Publishers, published in April 2018.
RATING: 4/5 Stars

My Bookzone blog:
Profile Image for Claire.
823 reviews177 followers
July 7, 2020
This read fell firmly into the “wanted to like it more than I did” category for me. It hits some content I generally find quite high interest (true crime, rich people problems, and the adolescent psyche) but it struggled to hold my interest. That’s not to say that there isn’t some excellent writing here. There are some super incisive moments (I’m thinking the section on cutting, the analysis of Weiss’ relationship with her mother in the latter half of the book). Generally, I think this memoir struggled to be a cohesive story. It tries to do a lot of things and isn’t convincingly any of them. I found parts very interesting and beautifully written, but wasn’t fully engaged.
Profile Image for Scott.
1,750 reviews124 followers
June 12, 2018
When finishing You All Grow Up and Leave Me, I was reminded of a twenty-five year-old review by the late, great critic Roger Ebert for the somewhat-forgotten movie Backbeat.

Ebert took issue with the film - about bassist Stu Sutcliffe, who he described as "a painter who was almost a Beatle" - because it "could make a good movie, but only if the story pulled its own weight, and didn't hitch a ride on the Beatles legend." He further referenced an old theater joke - that the actor playing the gravedigger in Hamlet thinks the story revolves around him when describing his role - which dovetails with Stanislavski's "there are no small parts, only small actors" quip.

With Weiss' You All Grow Up and Leave Me - a coming-of-age memoir with a dash of true crime - I can see that some readers will think she's too much an "almost" in the true crime part.

Yes, she may not have been the intended or actual victim - during a 1993 assault / attempted kidnapping of a teenager by a tennis instructor - but Weiss does an exemplary and unsettling job showing how close, or hiding in plain sight, danger and evil can be to (mostly) unassuming kids.

What was just as good, if not even better or more memorable, were Weiss' non-nostalgic teenage memories of simply growing up and attending prep school in New York City. (Her fluid relationship with her mother - the other major character in the book - is also a large part of the narrative.) When she detailed some of her experiences - and she had a nice, direct way in describing a scene that a reader is right there alongside her - it felt like I was teenager back in high school. (Ugh.) I mean, she captured the awkward state of being an American adolescent to an uncomfortable degree.
Profile Image for BAM the enigma.
1,858 reviews364 followers
February 28, 2019
I had never heard of this Gary the tennis pro obsessed with teenage girls and it happened when I was a teenager. Where the hell was i? Simply fascinating but I stopping myself from rating it higher just because I liked the narrator so much she was perfect
Profile Image for Sarah.
802 reviews
November 12, 2018
I really liked this. Don't go on expecting a detailed true crime story, though you do hear some details of that towards the end. It's really a teenage coming of age memoir, seen through the lens of the year the author spent being coached by a man who ended up trying to abduct another student and then killing himself. While I can't identify with Piper Weiss's rich, prep school, New York City childhood, I still found this incredibly relatable, between her turbulent teenage inner life and her messy adult life, with her complicated feelings about men and their approval. Weiss struggles to figure out how she should view her relationship with her coach, and grapples with the question of why, even now, she wonders why *she* wasn't the favorite student he focused his unhealthy obsession on. Would recommend to anyone who likes memoirs or dark tales of obsession.

*Used for PopSugar 2018 Reading Challenge prompt "A book about or involving a sport."
21 reviews1 follower
February 26, 2018
I heard about this book as a sort of blending of memoir and true-crime. Let me dissuade anyone who thinks the same: this is not a true-crime book. In 15 minutes of google-ing Gary Wylenski, you can know more about the case than is presented here.

What it is actually about could have been interesting: growing up in a private Manhattan prep-school among New York's rich and famous, all while dealing with the growing pains that accompany being a teenage girl (not to mention being Jewish in WASP-ville). Where it goes wrong is in trying to shoe-horn in the Gary subplot. She seems to have put a lot of research into the facts of his life, even reaching out to the "Daughter", the person Gary did end up stalking, trying to kidnap, and beating severely. In a sliver of self-reflection she realizes after the second time trying to ask the Daughter for an interview, that she has no right to her story, to make her relive it. And then she wrote this book. The disconnect is astounding.

Even more disturbing is the central theme of her entire work: why wasn't it me? Why was I not the one he obsessed over, photographed, stalked, prepared to abduct and rape/restrain/abuse, and ultimately beat in a parking lot.

All this and I haven't mentioned the confusing structure, jumping around at random between her own recollections and the pieces of Gary's life she witnessed/researched, and forwards and backwards through time with no appreciable focus.

This book would have been more appropriate if kept between the author and her therapist. I do not mean this as a jibe, the central theme is not healthy, and I hope she moves past this part of her life.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,359 reviews529 followers
April 8, 2018
A big thank you to William Morrow and Edelweiss for a digital ARC of this new true crime/memoir.

The combination of the two styles was a bit disconcerting for me as a reader. As the author flipped back and forth from the time of the crime to her research in later years the narratives were mixed and sometimes almost blurred. It would be traumatic to have such a near miss. Add that to an already fragile psyche and you wonder how many other "victims" are out there with baggage from being one of Gary's girls. The glimpse behind the scenes of Gary's breakdown was alarming to watch as you knew there would be collateral damage. How interesting to see how much more we know about stalkers today than we did 25 years ago.
Profile Image for Lauren.
219 reviews46 followers
June 14, 2018
This has a great tone--slightly off-kilter, slightly overheated, all-too-subjective--that means it merits that Megan Abbott blurb. In fact, it does feel like the origin of a Megan Abbott novel, but that's the problem. This has the bare bones of a story, but it needs someone to put flesh on it, and Weiss can't quite... in part because a recurring point of her story is that it's not her story and as such has to be a little bit slight. I respect the ambition and the craft, but ultimately, this feels like too much of a memoir to merit its true crime plunge. There's a low-level cringe factor after a while to Weiss recounting how she feels about having not been the victim of a sensationalized, high-profile crime; in the wrong light, it's a grotesque kind of name-dropping. "Did you know I could have been kidnapped by my tennis instructor? It's true!"

Weiss doesn't hit that point, because she's too intelligent and too empathetic, but she keeps running up against the problem of this kind of voyeuristic account. She's telling the story of Gary Wilensky, her prestigious New York tennis instructor who became obsessed with one of his students and stalked her before attempting to kidnap her and take her to a remote cabin he'd already equipped in the most skin-crawling way possible. She digs into Wilensky's damaged psychology and makes him a complex, chilling figure, and she evokes very well the strange feeling of being jealous of not being the one who attracted his attention. But she can't get an interview with Wilensky's victim, which means that the book is an endless circling around her own feelings--about Wilensky, about her childhood, about class, about sex--without a strong enough pull back to the reality of the crime.

I'd be happy to read more Weiss, but in the end, there was just something off-putting to me about writing a whole book about how you felt about something that happened to someone else; even though the strangeness of doing that is part of the point, I don't think the effect is strong enough. This would have made a hell of an essay, though.
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,063 reviews130 followers
February 27, 2018
"The onus is on us to change, be better, be less like who we are. We're at fault for caving to our impulses and encouraged to steer ourselves toward more calculated decisions. Once we called this pursuit purity; now we call it evolving."

Thank you, Goodreads for an advanced copy of this book. Opinion is my own!

I will start this off by saying that judging someones life in book form is never easy. This is someones life in your hands. They felt comfortable enough to share their story and we are judging them word for word.

The synopsis trapped me. Prep school tellings really aren't my thing, it was the dark undertone that got me.

Pipers story isn't that different from a lot of others. She was rich, went to an upscale school, and had private tennis tutoring two days a week. She drank, she smoked and broke rules just like other kids. The only thing that stands out from her life is her tennis instructor was a sick and twisted man.

Throughout the entire book, Piper comes off as whiny and a tad bit confusing. She kept repeating why wasn't she the favorite? Even after she found out what her tennis coach had done to countless others, she still wanted to be his number one. It just leaves you disgusted and shaking your head.

I felt that the reason why she wanted to write this book because she is an obsessed woman still living in a fantasy world. She highly wants to be liked and that was a huge turn off from the start.

Sad to say, but the highlight of this tale was the story of Gary and how he deceived his way into peoples lives. I wish the book was more about him and his sick fascination but instead, we settle for a tale of wanting to be everyones number one.

Thanks, but no thanks! Bye, girl, bye!!
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
June 12, 2018
An absorbing memoir/true crime read about Piper Weiss's life intersecting with Gary Wilensky. Wilensky earned her trust, as well as her family's, but it was through this grooming behavior that allowed him to then pursue further attempts at relationships with his young clients. His attempts to capture and seduce one of his students went terribly wrong, which led Wilensky to end his life, and Weiss's book is an attempt to not only explore who he was and what drew him to behave this way, but it's also a look at how being a teenage girl is a land mine of men like Wilensky. Weiss is privileged and well-off in Manhattan, with access to so much, yet a man like him was able to gain her trust, her parents trust, and the trust of so many others like her.

This is an exploration of why not her, and yet, why her at the same time. It's a book about the way adults groom and earn the trust of young victims, about the ways that those advances can be brushed aside and ignored.

It's hard to say much more. Weiss is, by all accounts, as average as someone with her status could be, and her experiences with Wilensky are as a victim without being "the" victim. In a lot of ways, this makes her story relatable and something so many women will identify with.

The audiobook for this was great. Brittany Pressley gives a great performance and offers up just enough intonation to give more depth to the book itself -- her voice sounds like a teen girl, on the cusp of adulthood, and here, it works perfectly.
Profile Image for Meg - A Bookish Affair.
2,445 reviews192 followers
April 17, 2018
3.5 stars. "You All Grow Up and Leave Me" is the true crime story of Gary, a seemingly harmless man that weasels his way into the lives of many of Manhattan's elite families through tennis. He teaches female students how to be successful tennis players and his services are in high demand. He is hiding a very dark side and abuses multiple young girls in a monstrously systematic way and the way it ends for seems like something out of a horror movie.

It took me a little bit to get in the book. At first it seems like the book is very much as simply a memoir of someone who was a teenager in the early 90s. We see Weiss with her friends and what she was doing inside and outside of school. We see the tumultuous relationship with her mother and the friction that permeates their home. Eventually once we get to Gary and into the things he did and the dissection of why he did what he did, the book really picked up for me.

Not only does Weiss explore who Gary was but she was a victim herself - one of Gary's girls. This makes for an especially haunting recounting of Gary's horrible crimes. Weiss seems to go back and forth between really wanting to understand what happened and pushing it away. While this was a little frustrating as a reader, I do think it captures the things that go through a victim's head, especially one so young. Understanding doesn't necessarily change things. I thought it was interesting to see what Weiss found in interviewing some of the other victims and made for a really unique read.

This book stars slowly but ends up with a wild ride.
Profile Image for Stephanie (Books in the Freezer).
431 reviews1,101 followers
April 23, 2020
"I have always believed my failure to be a main character, the heroine, the object of desire, makes me, by default, the villain. But Feste proved a third option. The Fool is off to the side, but always onstage."

3.5 Stars

This was a bit more memoir than true crime. Piper Weiss grew up in New York City's Upper East Side in the 90's. She took private tennis lessons from Gary Wilenski. A man who would later attempt to kidnap one of his young female students and kill himself when the attempt failed. Piper calls herself an "almost victim". She had spent many times getting driven to lessons in Gary's car, he even gave her extra weekend lessons for free. What did that mean in light of what would later happen?

My issue with this was with her fixation on her status as an almost victim. The memoir portions are stuffed with male rejection. Her adolscent memories are of always being looked over romantically by her more attractive, more popular friends. It's a strange narrative when put next to Wilenski story. It's a very vulnerable and introspective story, but I never felt okay with the "why not me?" part of it.
Profile Image for Emma.
80 reviews28 followers
April 4, 2022
this is about to sound so fucked up but this is a such a hot girl book. Piper Weiss is so talented as a writer and really captures what it is like to know things intellectually but still being unable to process them emotionally.
an insanely gorgeous memoir about so many things.
1. wishing something terrible happened to you instead of someone else not because you want to protect, but because you do not understand that you were not the special one in a predator's life.
2. your mother is your first love and the worst enemy you will ever have.
3. not experiencing boys young and having to deal with boy stuff later in life than you would like
4. everyone hates me, thinks I'm stupid and less than them in every way and my friends mean so much to me

im going to be thinking of this for years. easy five stars.
Profile Image for Amanda .
701 reviews13 followers
July 30, 2022
You All Grow Up and Leave Me is a dual genre book. Part coming of age memoir and part true crime, it tells the story of Piper Weiss's adolescence, interwoven with her experiences with her tennis coach, Gary Wilensky.

To be honest, I had no interest in Piper's memoirs. Reading about a privileged girl from NYC who grew up attending an all girls boarding school doesn't hold my interest. I just wanted to learn about Gary Wilensky and his story. Wilensky had been grooming his favorite girls for years, but thankfully, he didn't have a chance to do more harm before he was stopped. Weiss had a strange fascination with wanting to be one of his chosen girls, which weirded me out. I really could not wrap my head around this desire and this made it hard for me to empathize with her.

This book was okay but not great. Since it wasn't written by an investigative reporter, but rather a freelance editor and writer, I'm wondering if Wilensky's story could have been further fleshed out by someone in the vein of Ann Rule or Greg Olsen. In the hands of someone more capable, it would have been better without the memoir and with Gary's life more fleshed out.

Profile Image for Lady Alexandrine.
232 reviews59 followers
February 15, 2020
It was an interesting read! "You All Grow Up and Leave Me" is a memoir written with rough honesty. Piper Weiss doesn't hold anything back and doesn't mince words, that's for sure. The book concentrates on the author's experience as a young girl when she was trained by a tennis teacher that later turned out to be a dangerous sexual predator. He intended to hurt terribly another girl, but fortunately his plans came to nothing. Surprisingly, the author's experiences from this time are positive. She liked her tennis teacher and felt understood by him. She was under the impression that they shared something special. It was difficult for her to accept that he led a double life and could hurt anybody.

While the memoir is worth reading, it was at times disturbing. The author's voice was compelling, but it was difficult to like the author and sometimes to understand her.
Profile Image for Jen Ryland.
1,485 reviews905 followers
March 3, 2018
Really interesting. A combination memoir and true crime investigation, this book is about the author's 1990s-era relationship with Gary, a tennis instructor who was later accused of being obsessed with his tween and teen students and plotting to kidnap one of them.

She looks back at that time in her life and reflects on what it's like to be a girl exploring her independence, identity as a woman and sexuality. She also researches and reflects on Gary and the case. It's a fascinating story of how kids in their teens and tweens are particularly vulnerable to predators. It's a case study on how sexual predators groom and stalk their victims.

The writing is impressive and interesting. The story is disturbing and compelling.

More thoughts soon. But if you like memoir, definitely check this out.

Read more of my reviews on JenRyland.com! Check out my Bookstagram! Or check out my Jen In Ten reviews on Youtube - get the lowdown on current books in 10-30 seconds!

Thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy for review!
Profile Image for Dawnny.
Author 1 book24 followers
July 10, 2018
Everyone should read this!
In 1993 Tennis Instructor Gary Wilensky attempted to kidnap a young student he became obsessed with. During the police chase he killed himself. They found an isolated cabin in the woods where he planned to take her. Piper Weiss was his student at a Manhattan New York prep school. The novel,a memoir of a young girl coming of age in the 90's. A confused teenager who cuts herself to release the pain. An honest retelling that is stunning. A haunting look at her relationship with Wilensky and the fact that even years later she had a hard time excepting that he was delusional. A dangerous look at obsession. Wilensky was so charming that the very thought of him doing harm to any of the girls never came to mind. The parents loved him. The girls loved him striving to be his favorite. The title You All Grow Up and Leave Me was what Wilensky had said. Everyone should read this novel.

From the publisher for my honest review
Novels N Latte
Book Blog
Profile Image for Jessica.
88 reviews2 followers
April 28, 2018
Memoirs, by design, are self-centered. They are the memoirist's version of the truth. You All Grow Up and Leave Me is a difficult read. This is not because of its coverage of a child predator but because of the author’s tone. There is no doubt that Weiss is aware of her privilege and she is certainly entitled to tell her truth. Yet still, linking her coming of age to hebephile Gary Wilensky feels inappropriate and selfish. Weiss explains her attachment to Wilinsky and honors the victims and their privacy in her writhing but it’s difficult not to feel as though she is inserting herself into something that she should not.
Profile Image for Peacegal.
9,955 reviews90 followers
April 17, 2019
This is a unique book, one that is simultaneously growing-up memoir and true crime, written in sensory, almost lyrical words.

It's a look not only into a bizarre crime but also a cloistered world of wealth and privilege few of us will ever see. (I had to Google "Tiffany bean necklace," to use but one small example.)
Profile Image for Christina McLain.
511 reviews16 followers
June 6, 2020
This is a meditative memoir which combines the horror of true crime with the everyday agonies Weiss endured as a lonely and somewhat troubled teenager growing up in New York City's affluent Upper East Side in the early 90's. Weiss, who was very small for her age and Jewish, felt she didn't belong at her prestigious Wasp private school. She had suffered ftom anxiety from an early age and believed she didn't measure up to her popular older sister and her classmates, who were often high achievers or worse, beautiful high achievers.
To compensate for her shyness and to ensure Piper would later get accepted at an Ivy League school, her mother encouraged her to take up tennis. Soon she would, like many of her peers, receive private lessons from Gary Wilensky, a NYC tennis instructor who had carved out a successful and lucrative niche for himself by coaching at Brierly, Piper's prep school, and giving lessons to teenage girls during evenings and weekends. In those seemingly innocent days, few parents objected to Wilensky taking their daughters alone to dinners and driving them to matches and tournaments. Unfortunately, Wilensky had a secret life and became obsessed with one of his protegees. He also attempted to kidnap the girl and bring her to a cabin he had outfitted with restraints and instruments of torture. Fortunately he was stopped and ultimately committed suicide. All of this is documented well, as are the mores and quirks of this particular social class at this time.
My objection to this book stems from the character of the author herself. Despite the fact that she was a sad little girl, she just isn't at all likeable. Not all authors have to be pleasant but Weiss is also pretty creepy. I gave this book a rating of 2 even though it was very well-written, because as I read farther on into the book, I realized that the author kept researching Wilensky's life and death and inserting herself where she wasn't wanted (to the point of asking the victim of the kidnap to retell her story years later) because she wanted to know why he didn't pick her. Most people associated with Wilensky refused to deal with her, a fact I also found quite interesting.
This may sound harsh but it became more and more apparent as the story went on, that Weiss is so narcissistic and damaged, she wanted to be the one Wilensky chose. So, while the memoir is well-written, it is also disturbing and in the end, pointless and somewhat destructive. I really got the feeling Weiss was a secret voyeur (there is an unsettling chapter where she interacts sexually with the Peeping Tom in the next apartment for a number of months) and everything seemed ultimately to relate back to her. And she never seemed to acquire any maturity in her adult relationships or attitudes. I actually felt sorry for het mother who seemed to be made of sterner stuff. As Holden Caulfield, a survivor of prep school himself in the novel The Catcher in the Rye once famously said, just because someone has an inferiority complex, doesn't stop them from being a bastard. Enough said.
Profile Image for Deb.
1,224 reviews56 followers
April 26, 2018
I love memoirs and I find true crime fascinating so I immediately wanted to read this book and be on the TLC Book Tour even though I only had a vague recollection of the Gary Wilensky case. I was in my late twenties, across the country, and focused on other things when in 1993, Wilensky attempted to kidnap a seventeen-year-old former tennis student and when he failed, killed himself. I had little in common with New York's Upper East Side teens and their lifestyles and private schools and tennis coaches. Piper Weiss, however, was in the middle of it all, a fourteen-year-old student of "Grandpa Gary" who was confused reconciling that Gary with the friend, mentor, and one of the few "adult allies" in her life. Also confusing for her--both then and today, are her feelings of being let down, that she wasn't the focus of Gary's so-called love.

You All Grow Up and Leave Me vacillates primarily between 1992-93 and 2014-16 and Weiss paints a picture of growing up on the Upper East Side where many people including Weiss's mother believes is the "safe" part of New York City. With prep schools and privilege and parents focused on getting their children the best help to stand out and be successful, it seems all to easy for Gary Wilensky to insinuate himself into society and become a successful tennis coach. Because of word of mouth and his own marketing skills, no one looked closely at his background and parents gave him access, often too much, to their daughters. It wasn't until his obsession with one of "Gary's Girls" made her uncomfortable that his behavior escalated into dangerous. Piper Weiss does a good job of building Gary's background and history--although I wouldn't have minded more information on him and the actual crime. I found myself pulling up some of the articles the Weiss mentioned to learn more, but really this story is Piper's--at least in this book.

Piper's story is both relatable and not. While her personality, family, and lifestyle were very different from mine, I think most anyone who is or was a teenage girl has had that feeling of not quite fitting in, being judged--by yourself, your friends, the boys you like, and wanting to be special and to be loved. I found myself at times both wanting to hug her and give her a shake. Both she and Gary Wilensky had (in her case, still has) their obsessions, but his came out in a chilling attempted crime and death by his own hand, while Weiss exorcises her demons by seeking to understand them and writing about them. She writes honestly, often poignantly, sometimes darkly humorous, and in a way that is a bit unsettling--the memoir-leaning parts are a bit like looking into a teenager's diary and seeing more than you might have wanted to. This book won't be for everyone, but I think it could lead to some interesting discussion. I found it unique and compelling and well worth reading.

You can see my review as well as a recipe inspired by the book on my blog post here: http://kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com/20...

Note: A review copy of "The Wild Inside" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Barbara.
13.1k reviews271 followers
May 8, 2018
Although this book tackles the obsession of tennis coach Gary Wilensky for the teen girls he coached, it also deals with the author's feelings about him and about his crime. Wilensky coached several girls who attended exclusive schools in New York City, often charming his charges with his playfulness and how he let them get away with breaking little rules set by parents or society. The girls loved him because he was funny and gave them treats even while making tennis fun. But as the book shows, there was another side to Gary, one that he kept hidden from everyone around him. Readers looking for the definitive answer as to why he behaved as he did and whether his actions ever moved from grooming his victims to something illegal other than his attempt at kidnapping one girl won't find that answer here. Instead, the author has combed through articles, interviews, and conducted her own research into the matter as well as reflecting back on how it felt to be one of Gary's girls since she herself was coached by him for a period. Thus, while the purpose for the book might have been to shed light on Gary's crime and the attraction he had for others, ultimately, the book becomes a form of therapy for its author as she recalls her transition from girlhood to adolescence and her need to feel loved and to feel special. This is not easy reading because of its subject matter and because of its honesty and the very rawness of someone admitting that she still wonders why she wasn't chosen when Gary selected his victim. If nothing else, it sheds light on what makes certain girls vulnerable to the attentions of someone like Gary and serves as something of a cautionary tale. I was impressed with the writing and how the author told this story, alternating chapters between Gary or "the man," as she dubs him, and "the girl" or herself. Once again, the glimpses into a life of privilege and the difference between what someone shows in public and what he/she feels deep inside are stark. Although this book disturbed me, I'm glad I read it, and I can see it prompting much discussion for a number of reasons.
Profile Image for Shaun.
264 reviews16 followers
January 16, 2018
I received a copy of this book for free through a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

"You All Grow Up and Leave Me" is part memoir, part true crime. It's an interesting look into the world of New York private school and private coaching from the perspective of one of those students.

The writing style took a bit to get used to. Each chapter was like a snippet from a news article and/or diary. As the reader gets further into the book, it's easier to read and actually becomes quite a page turner and becomes much more personal and introspective. Weiss does a good job of leading the reader with some pieces of foreshadowing and building the suspense throughout. I knew nothing about the case of her tennis coach, Gary Wilensky, so it was all new to me.

Overall, definitely recommend the book to true crime fans, fans of coming of age memoirs, and memoirs in general.
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