Joanna Dakoyannis on “The Battle for Innocence”

Why is this book a helpful resource for teens?

The Battle for Innocence is a realistic account of the challenges that teens encounter as early as middle school.  The teens in this book are introduced to socially advanced situations at an early age because of older siblings and older friends.  This book demonstrates how teens handle their first encounters with alcohol, drugs and sex. It also shows teens how important faith can be in helping to make the right choices. The teens in the book who relied on their spirituality to guide them, ultimately dealt with these situations more successfully.

Who is your favorite character in this story and why?

My favorite character in this story is Chantal.  I love her honesty and the way she is always true to herself.  Even when she is drunk, she never even contemplates lying to her parents.  She is adamant to go home. She is ready to own up to her actions no matter what and welcomes advice from the people she loves. She is also very intertwined in her faith, constantly looking to God for answers on how to deal with her challenges. 

What was the most surprising thing about seeing the main characters’ lives in 7th grade?

The thing I found most surprising was the level of drinking and sex that they were exposed to in the seventh grade.  Although this is typically the type of environment that high school kids would be exposed to, it was shocking to see middle schoolers dealing with these types of social situations.

Why is it important for readers to know the backstory shared in this novel?

Chantal & Cathy, 7th Grade

Readers of the MLH series should definitely read this book.  This novel provides insight into how the characters came to be who they are in their high school state.  Seeing their early social influences helps the reader see how their character was formed. While the background information on most of the characters makes perfect sense, some of the characters in the seventh grade are much different than they are in high school.  For example, Cathy’s character is very surprising in the seventh grade compared to how she presents herself in high school.


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?



Joanna Dakoyannis is a rising senior at Dover-Sherborn High School. She enjoys creative writing, traveling, going to the gym, running track for her high school team and loves cheering on the team at school sporting events. She plans to be a science major in college and hopes to eventually attend dental school.


An Exceptional Book I Recommend to Teens & Preteens

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May’s Q&A with Joanna Dakoyannis of Dover Sherborn High School

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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.