A bristling, harrowing journey into the life of a stalker and his unsuspecting victims.

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YOU ALL GROW UP AND LEAVE ME

A MEMOIR OF TEENAGE OBSESSION

A woman who grew up under the tutelage of a predatory child molester shares her story.

As a youth in Manhattan, Weiss (My Mom, Style Icon, 2011) was a tennis hopeful at “one of the top private schools in the country.” Her memoir, a lyrically crafted yet unsettling affair, opens on a bus, with her and her classmates on their way to tennis lessons. She learned about Gary Wilensky, an in-demand private coach who became popular with many other girls at the school. The book’s framework is culled from police reports, articles, interviews, personal field research, and Wilensky’s own words, transcribed from documents. Through this dogged research, Weiss charts Wilensky’s early life and his sketchy employment history and then moves into his private life, which became increasingly disturbing and sinister, ultimately revealing the shrouded world of a sexual obsessive who preyed on vulnerable, unassuming young girls. Running alongside this narrative is the story of the author’s privileged upbringing and adolescent experiences, which paint a multitonal portrait of a girl in flux with schoolwork, insecurities, desires to succeed and discover herself, all while blissfully unaware of the predatory deviant lurking beneath the facade of a goofy middle-aged tennis coach who was cool with all the kids. By the time the author had her first tennis lessons with “Grandpa Gary” in the early 1990s, he had already amassed a group of favorite girls to whom he’d send valentines and divulge intimate secrets. Wilensky also began fully furnishing a remote cabin hideaway with bondage and torture equipment and surveillance technology. Was Weiss his next victim? No one will ever know; Wilensky killed himself after the failed kidnapping attempt of a mother and daughter he’d been stalking. Weiss has crafted a dark and brooding yet brisk and eloquently written memoir, and her vivid coming-of-age narration shines a spotlight on the precarious relationship between teenagers and adults and everything that can go awry in between.

A bristling, harrowing journey into the life of a stalker and his unsuspecting victims.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-245657-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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