“Gripped” by Stacy Padula is a Book All Middle School & High School Students Will Enjoy Reading

Written by Elizabeth Harvey, Needham, MA

Elizabeth Harvey is a college sophomore, where she studies communications. She is currently continuing her studies at Northeastern University after spending her freshman year at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communications. She recently began reading Stacy Padula’s new teen book series “Gripped,” which was released one month ago by Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Below she shares a recommendation for the first book in the series “The Truth We Never Told.”

I recommend “Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told” by Stacy A. Padula to Middle and High School students, as it is a quick and easy read that immediately captivates the reader. There is a lack of books and information about drugs and alcohol that provide insightful information put into a context that teenagers will find both entertaining and educational; making “Gripped Part 1” a perfect book for Middle and High School students. Although aimed at a teenage demographic, “Gripped Part 1” is also relevant for adults, specifically parents of adolescent children or adults with younger siblings or other young family members. This book could help adults better understand the teenage perspective and the various day-to-day challenges and temptations that Middle and High School students face. Recognizing the growing addiction problem in the U.S is one of the first steps in tackling the complexity of it and helping others who may be struggling.

As a young adult, I find this story to be incredibly relatable. Presently, the opioid epidemic is increasing every day, especially for young adults. There is a lack of information about drugs and alcohol in the American school system and I personally never was given any info in Middle or High School about the topics discussed in “Gripped Part 1.” As a college student now, this story is even more relatable because my exposure to both drugs and alcohol has increased significantly since High School and I see first hand the adverse effects that the abuse of these substances has on both physical and mental well-being.

This story explored essential topics in a fun and entertaining way, but what I enjoyed most was just how real the characters seem. While reading “Gripped Part 1,” I felt as though I knew all the characters. The story and characters are fully realized and have so much depth, that this allowed me to become fully immersed within the various storylines and become invested in the character’s lives.

“Gripped Part 1” sends many vital messages to readers. Something that I took away after reading was that there is always a space for forgiveness. Most of the characters demonstrate their ability to empathize with their friends or family and eventually find forgiveness for others, even when it may be difficult. I think this is such an important message for teenagers and young adults in the context of drug abuse because often the lack of interest or ability in asking for help is fueled by the fear of judgment and shame of disclosing to friends and family. The stigma around addiction does not help the problem, it only adds to it, and this book will hopefully spark some conversation or discussions about these difficult topics for a younger audience.

Book 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.