A Junior from St. Sebastian’s School Shares His Opinion of “Gripped Part 1” by Stacy A. Padula

Article by Michael Farinacci of Medfield, MA—Saint Sebastian’s Class of 2020

Although this book should be read by everybody, I would highly recommend Gripped Part 1 to anybody who is either in middle school or high school. The conflicts that occur in the story are almost identical to what happens in a real high school or middle school, which allows somebody in either middle school or high school to more closely relate to the story. Additionally, the fact that the book is set in a very realistic town and follows high school and middle school-aged kids further enhances the ability to relate to and envision yourself in the story.

While reading the novel, I liked the fact that there were many different storylines going on at one time. The multiple storylines in the book always kept me on my toes and only heightened my interest in the book. I also loved it when two or more of the storylines intersected with each other. It was always interesting to see how the different storylines worked with, as well as against, each other throughout the novel.

Gripped Part 1 sends two very important messages to its readers. The first message is a warning against drugs, because, although they might start out as “fun”, they have the ability to destroy lives, and the second message is that one situation can be interpreted in many different ways by different people.

The first message is clearly portrayed through Taylor. Taylor had it all; he was the starting varsity quarterback with a Division I scholarship with a legitimate chance at the NFL, but because he did some drugs “for fun” with his friend when they went to clubs, he threw away his entire career and talent due to addiction. The second message is displayed through the breakup of Chantal and Jon. In this breakup, Chantal thinks that Jon broke up with her and Jon thinks that Chantal broke up with him. Now, this situation does create chaos, but in the long run, it is not that serious. However, if applied to a more serious situation, the ability of different people to see the same situation two different ways could potentially be dangerous.

As a young adult who is currently in high school, it was easy to relate to the story, because many of the characters are similar to many of my friends in real life. Now, there were obvious differences between the two; however, being able to picture the character as a real-life person only enhances the relatability. Furthermore, many of the situations and conflicts throughout the story are either things that have happened to one of my friends or me, or situations that have happened at nearby high schools. The ability to picture my friends as the characters and picture the situation only heightened my interest.

Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told
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.