Needham’s Kyle Banker on the “Gripped” Book Series’ Characters

Taylor Dunkin – Cathy Kagelli – Chris Dunkin – Marc Dunkin – Jason Davids: The Gripped Book Series has an array of main characters, who range in age from twelve to twenty-three. Although they have vastly different struggles, values, and personalities, their lives are indisputably entwined. Kyle Banker, a Communications Intern for the Gripped book series, read “Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told” and shared his insight on the characters. His responses are below:

Who do you most relate to and why?

I feel like I can relate most to Cathy, as she seems to be in the middle of everything, but yet does not want to be the center of attention. Cathy is also willing to help her friends/siblings in need in order to sustain a level of happiness and connectivity in Montgomery. Finally, Cathy has a slight competitive nature, with an ability to go outside of her comfort zone in order to try new things. Based off all of these concepts and traits, I believe that I hold some similarities with Cathy based upon her description so far.

Who do you feel bad for and why?

I feel bad for Taylor just because he still has good intentions to break his addiction and make a football career. He only got addicted to drugs because of his surgery, which was due to playing football, and being prescribed painkillers has been notorious to result in a great deal of addictions. Overall, I believe he still has the mindset and passion to turn his life around, but going through withdrawal makes that goal tremendously hard.

Who frustrates you and why?

Chantal frustrates me most in the novel because of her relationship with Jon. It is clear that she is not a priority in his life, and after talking with Cathy, she seems to know that. However, Chantal is too nice of a person to break up with Jon and she tiressley tries to bring out the best in him and restructure their relationship. Since Jon does not share the same morals in Gripped Part 1, her efforts become very fruitless, but she still does not change her goals. As a result, this causes her to become very unhappy near the end of the book and puts her in a bad spot social-wise going into Part 2 of the series.

Who do you like and why?

Along with who I could relate to most, I also like Cathy the most out of all the characters in the book, with Jason coming in a close second. I like that Cathy is aware of the decisions that she is making, and always makes sure to assess her options before choosing an option. A great example of this is while she was at the big party with Jason. Instead of fully committing her time to him, she decided to check in on other situations happening around the house as well to see if everything was safe and sound. Moving more towards the point of the book, Cathy is more in-control of her drug usage, and only uses it in times of need. Since she can handle this kind of responsibility, along with her likable personality and interests, I have gone to enjoy learning more about Cathy in the novel.

Who do you hate and why?

I am not sure whether I really “hate” anyone in the book, but I would say that I dislike Jon for the actions he made towards the latter half of Gripped Part 1. His actions throughout the novel were very sporadic, and it was very difficult to gather a clear sense of who he was and what he truly wanted. In addition, I was very disappointed in the manner in which he treated his relationship with Chantal, as he seemed to ditch her as the storyline progressed. This could have been due to an unknown influence to begin drinking and taking drugs, as it clearly changed his mental stance and his personality as a whole. Overall, Jon at the beginning seemed to have a lot of upside: a good, loyal,  Christian boy. But, he quickly turned into a character that I disliked, and I am not certain whether I will change this perspective on him.

Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told Synopsis:

In high school, Taylor Dunkin broke more records than any other athlete to step foot in Montgomery, Massachusetts. As a sophomore in college, he was ranked by ESPN as one of the NFL’s top 100 prospects. However, his aspirations came to a jarring halt when a knee injury and two surgeries left him sidelined.

One year later, Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential investigation headed by the Boston Police Department. He has entangled himself in a crime ring notorious for pushing opiates, cocaine, and benzodiazepines on local college campuses.

When Taylor’s younger brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious drug supply circulating around Montgomery Lake High School, he sets off to not only reverse the damage Taylor has caused, but also save his lifelong role model from becoming a casualty of America’s deadly opioid epidemic.

In its release week, Gripped was ranked by Amazon as the #1 New Release for Children’s books about drug use on Kindle.

Published by Author Stacy A. Padula

Stacy Padula has spent the last 14 years working daily with teenagers as a college counselor, mentor, and life coach. She was named "Top Inspirational Author of the Year" for 2022 by the International Association of Top Professionals (New York, NY). In 2021, she was broadcast on the famous Reuters Building in Times Square as "Empowered Woman of the Year." Her Gripped book series is currently being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman. She is the founder and CEO of Briley & Baxter Publications: a publishing company that donates a portion of its proceeds to animal rescues each month. She has edited and published a variety of titles, including Boston Bruins Anthem Singer Todd Angilly and Rachel Goguen's The Adventures of Owen & the Anthem Singer, LaTonya Pinkard of Netflix's Last Chance U's Nate & His Magic Lion, and former NHL player Norm Beaudin's memoir The Original: Living Life Through Hockey. Stacy resides in Plymouth, Massachusetts with her husband Tim and two miniature dachshunds, Briley and Baxter.