May’s Q&A with Michael Farinacci of St. Sebastian’s School

Michael Farinacci, a junior at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, Massachusetts, read and reviewed Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told—the first book in a young adult series that examines the perils of prescription drug abuse amongst teenagers. After reading the novel, he was asked a series of questions about its main characters. His responses are below.

Who do you most relate to?

Jason Davids

Until the last few pages of the book, I felt as if I could relate the most to Jason. Jason, like myself, does not go to the same school as all the other kids, and on the weekends, he’s away skiing, which causes him to miss out on a lot of things. Although I don’t go away skiing every weekend, I understand how it feels to be gone for a while and then return to a group of friends and be a little bit confused. People can change very quickly, and if you are not with them every day, it is very easy to miss out on these changes.

Who do you like the most?

Marc Dunkin

I like Marc the most out of all the characters. Marc, like Taylor, has it all, but he doesn’t show it, and he doesn’t mess up. Marc never brags about his football commitment to Boston College, and he is never seen drinking or doing anything irresponsible. Marc knows he has a promising future, so he is responsible about it, which is why I like and respect Marc the most out of all the characters.

Who do you feel bad for?

Chantal Kagelli

I feel bad for Chantal. At the beginning of the book, Chantal has a steady boyfriend and more importantly a best friend as a sister. Although I am not blaming Cathy for their breakup, Chantal’s twin broke up her and her boyfriend, which devastated her. In addition, Chantal is beginning to “lose” her sister to Jason, and, as foreshadowed by the end of the book, to drugs.

Who frustrates you?

Taylor Dunkin

Taylor frustrates me the most by far. Taylor seemingly had it all and has the ability to play high-level Division I football. He was a hero for the town and a role model for the younger kids, but he threw it all away for drugs. I do applaud him for trying to get back on the right path, but the fact that he threw away his future frustrates me.

Who do you hate?

Jordan Dunkin

I hate Jordan the most out of all the characters. Jordan, like Marc and Taylor, has incredible football potential, including a Division I offer. Despite his bright future, he still goes out, parties, does drugs, and makes terrible decisions in general. What infuriates me more is that his older brother, Taylor, made these same sort of decisions and lost everything, yet Jordan still doesn’t see how his decisions can come back to haunt him.

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.
$3.99 Kindle | $13.50 Paperback

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.