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.