The Most Surprising Thing About “The Battle for Innocence”

In June, Jennifer O’Sullivan of Dover-Sherborn High School read The Battle for Innocence by Stacy Padula. Below, she shares her opinion on what took her by surprise in the novel, which flashes back to two years prior to the other Montgomery Lake High books. The Battle for Innocence is the 4th book in the MLH Series.

In The Battle for Innocence, it is extremely surprising to see how different Cathy was in the 7th grade flashback in comparison to how she is now. Back in middle school Cathy was a strong, kind follower of God who looked out for Chantal and cared about others. In a seemingly 180 degree shift, Cathy became involved in substances and from then on, cared solely about popularity and looks, letting her previous life of happiness go down the drain. This change in Cathy made me realize the large extent to which alcohol and drugs can mess up a person’s life in the long run. I think this was a sad but necessary reminder of how quickly things can go wrong and if Cathy had stayed as strong in her faith as Chantal had, her life would not have become so dismal. It was so surprising to see how someone could change so quickly and become almost unrecognizable as the person they had previously been. 

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I think it is important for teenagers to know that, as shown in Cathy’s situation, it is extremely easy to fall prey to the clutches of substance abuse and addiction. In just two short years, some characters went from living a happy and fulfilled life to a life full of hopelessness and reliance on substances. On the other hand, some characters changed for the better and started to help others, avoid temptation, and build relationships with the right people.

This backstory in this book really gives teenagers a taste of reality when it comes to the dangers of high school and how mixing with the wrong crowd can ruin your life. It is important for teenagers to see the harsh contrast between how characters are now and how they used to be, so that readers can know how important each decision they make can be. There will always be adults in life warning kids not to drink or do drugs, but oftentimes teenagers won’t listen. Teenagers often live in the present moment and don’t consider the long term effects of their decisions. This flashback shows how having a fun time at a party can turn very quickly from a one time thing into a habit that changes your life for the worse.  The flashbacks in The Battle for Innocence show the jarring reality of what teenagers will have to face if they don’t take control of their lives and live it in the image of what they wish to become.


Jon Anderson and Chantal Kagelli are trying to live moral lives, but temptations are plaguing them in and out of school. Will they continue to be lights in their best friends’ lives or will they get pulled into the darkness?


Jennifer O’Sullivan, a rising senior at Dover Sherborn High School, enjoys reading, playing the piano, spending time with friends and doing volunteer work. Jennifer leads her school’s community service club, runs on her school’s cross country and track teams and loves to travel, especially to Ireland where she spends time with friends and family.

Other Articles by Jennifer

Why “The Right Person” is a Perfect Book for Teens

“The Right Person” by Stacy Padula Shows How Faith Can Benefit Teenagers

Jennifer O’Sullivan of Dover-Sherborn High School on “When Darkness Tries to Hide” by Stacy Padula

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.