We caught up with Rebecca Ronning, a junior at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, New York, to ask her some questions about the first book in the Gripped book series by Stacy Padula. Rebecca was just chosen as the book series’ Intern of the Month for May of 2019! Here is what Rebecca had to say:
Who would you recommend Gripped Part 1 to and why?
I would recommend Gripped Part 1 to any high schooler who may be feeling the inevitable temptations of dangerous party drugs. It is important to recognize the legitimate impact that the things you do in high school can have on your future, not only on your health but within your professional career. To anybody reading this book, I would say that decisions you make matter in the long run; have fun while you’re young, but refrain from making bad choices.
How do you as a young adult relate to the story?
As a young adult, I often feel that I am invincible; that my young body can handle anything thrown at me. Whether it be intense physical activity or extremely unhealthy food, I rarely find myself pausing to consider my body’s limits and trust that it will always work the way it does now. This feeling of invincibility allows me to relate to the story and gives me a better understanding of what kids like Taylor may have experienced. Luckily, this story also gives me good insight into the fact that I am not bulletproof, and that my actions do have consequences.
What did you like best about the story?
The thing that I liked best about this story was the organization of the chapters. The jumping between time periods brought so much clarification to things that I had previously been curious about after reading the MLH series, and also provided a feeling of intense suspense for the reader.
What message does this book send to readers?
This book sends the powerful message that anybody can struggle with addiction, even those who you least expect. Taylor was once an extremely intelligent student, a talented varsity football player, and one of the most highly esteemed boys in the history of Montgomery Lake High. Based on his past, it certainly comes as a shock to hear that someone with so much potential, someone who is so loved by so many, would turn to hard drugs for support. It is important to remind people, those in high school particularly, what signs to look for in their friends who are at risk of harming themselves with inappropriate drug use.
Who do you feel bad for and why?
I feel bad for Taylor. He got himself caught up in something extremely dangerous, and difficult to resolve. His potential to be both a scholar and an impressive athlete were squandered by his drug use, which makes me feel pity towards him.
Who frustrates you and why?
Chris frustrates me, particularly in the instance where he is discussing and denying the possible date-rape of Marc’s friend, Michelle. He seems to be ignoring Marc’s input, the person who knew Michelle best, and is rather believing his biased perception of an obviously corrupt person. This disappoints me because I believe that it is important to recognize all sides of a story, especially when it comes to something as serious as rape, and to not simply shut down allegations because you think the abuser is “cool.” This is a dangerous logic, and is something that is definitely seen in reality. I have learned to expect more from Chris as a character, so hearing this was particularly frustrating to me.
Who do you most relate to and why?
I have a strong connection to Marc in the way in which he deeply cares for the well-being of his friends and family. He and I are both concerned for the health and safety of those we love, and would go to great lengths to make sure that nothing gets too out of hand.
Who do you like and why?
I really enjoy Cathy’s character. We begin to see a different side of her than we do in the Montgomery Lake High books, and it is interesting to see her development and to look at her character with more context.
What storyline do you find the most interesting and why?
My favorite parts of Gripped Part 1 are those that surround Taylor and the police. The crime investigation aspect of the book is something that we have never seen before in the Montgomery Lake High series, and I loved this element of the storyline. I could not put it down!
Gripped Part 1 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.