Her story is divided between the early nineties and the near present. The true-crime part of her book is significantly more interesting than her report of her own unexceptional life as a well-to-do teen. As a result, this one is strictly for true-crime fans.
You All Grow Up and Leave Me is a fusion of reportage and memory, a retelling of a horrific event told in a brazenly emotional way by a woman who witnessed it peripherally. Weiss defiantly uses the backdrop of a crime to revisit her own teenagehood, her trauma and the fraught feelings of jealousy and guilt that can only come from escaping a life-changing event that happened to everyone but you. That so many had disliked this book on the basis of those things, because Weiss dared to write a book about an experience that happened to her, but didn’t happen to her enough, sold me on it immediately ... There’s no crime to be solved in Weiss’ memoir. Gary Wilensky committed suicide before he could be caught, and he left detailed sketches and notebooks about his intended crime: the rape and torture of a teenage girl he’d been stalking for years. There were no clues to follow, no linear structure of questions leading to an answer at the end — but the method is the same. It’s still an uncovering. This is a different way to look at memoir, but it’s not that different at all. We write memoirs and confessional essays because we’re trying to see a face — even if sometimes, the face is our own. The writing of a memoir sometimes feels like the telling of a crime.
Memoirs that have a ripped-from-the-headlines event as their catalyst often need to pad the narrative to reach book length. Weiss gets surprisingly good mileage out of a trip to Wilensky’s hometown, Roslyn, Long Island ... Weiss has a wonderful eye for the evocative detail ... While the portrait of Wilensky is fully if sometimes laboriously drawn, it is the energetic, appealing yet fallible Mrs. Weiss who will be harder to forget.