A Close Look at the Characters in Gripped Part 2: Blindsided

Written by Elizabeth Harvey, Emerson College

How has your opinion of Taylor changed from the beginning of the series until the end of book 2?

I was happy with the progress Taylor has made that became evident by the end of book 2. Although he still has to figure out many things and relationships in his life, it appears Taylor has made an active effort to stay clean and slowly rebuild a relationship with his parents, particularly his father. I like the character of Taylor, and I am very interested in seeing how he progresses in the next books, especially how he will handle the mounting outside pressures from drug dealers he owes money and favors to and how the police situation will impact not only Taylor’s life but also Marc’s. 

How has your opinion of Chris changed since the beginning of the series?

In Gripped Part 2 I enjoyed seeing a new side of Chris and how he is beginning to mature throughout the collective series since we first saw him in the beginning. I have a newfound respect for Chris after seeing how he handled his relationship with Lisa and making the hard choice of choosing to not continue a relationship with her in order for both of them to better themselves; I especially loved seeing this choice because as a teenager or young adult this decision is definitely the harder one to make at the moment as opposed to staying together and only thinking about the short term, not the long run. 

After reading books 1 & 2, are you rooting for Cathy to end up with Jason or Marc?

Although Cathy and Jason have a long history with one another, ultimately I am rooting for Cathy to end up with Marc. Cathy has a lot of growing to do as a person, and I believe she would be able to do this more effectively with a partner more like Marc. I admire that Jason takes responsibility for the role he played in introducing Cathy to drugs with the best of intentions to try to help her, but the two of them as anything more than friends is a risky pairing, that I don’t believe either character could handle well in this very moment. 

What are your honest thoughts on Chris and Lisa’s relationship?

Chris and Lisa’s relationship is very interesting, and I believe it is beneficial for both characters, as well as destructive. The history that Chris and Lisa have is undeniable, and I like how much they care about one another. I think Chris’s decision not to continue his relationship with Lisa will ultimately be the better choice, especially as they enter high school, but it is a hard one to make. 

Who are your two favorite characters so far in the series and why?

My two favorite characters in the series so far are Jason and Chris. Although both characters are distinctly different people, I like both of them for the same reason. The maturity and ownership Jason and Chris have demonstrated, especially at such a young age, in this most recent book have made them my favorite characters. Both characters are striving to figure out themselves and who they want to be, and in the process, Jason and Chris have made several mistakes, but now they are admitting their role in these actions and actively trying to fix the situation or relationship and become a better version of themselves.  


“What other drugs have you tried?” Lisa asked.

“Weed, mushrooms, ecstasy, mescaline, acid, Adderall, Xanax, Klonopin, and Vicodin, but this one is, by far, the best,” Chris replied without any hesitation.

Lisa widened her eyes. “Wow. You’ve tried a lot of stuff since we broke up.”

Fourteen-year-old Chris Dunkin is known for being the life of the party and everyone’s favorite friend. Despite his amicable nature, he carries around deep-seated pain from his childhood that he frequently numbs with alcohol and drugs.

After hosting a party, Chris wakes up with a strange vibe running through his body and no recollection of the previous night. When he learns the horrifying truth of what his night entailed, the trajectory of his life is changed forever.

Purchase Gripped Part 2: Blindsided this month, and 50% of the proceeds will go to saving dogs from kill shelters, restoring them to health, and placing them in loving homes through the remarkable efforts of Last Hope K9 Rescue—a Boston-based non-profit that saves dogs from high-kill shelters throughout the Unites States. To date, Last Hope K9 Rescue has saved the lives of over 7,600 dogs!



Elizabeth first interned for Stacy Padula during the 2016-2017 school year. We are delighted to have her back as part of our team. Elizabeth attended Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications for one year before moving back to Boston and taking courses at Northeastern University. In the fall, she plans to attend Emerson College, as a communications major with a focus on public relations. She is originally from Needham, Massachusetts. Elizabeth enjoys creative writing and has a passion for traveling which she has pursued since high school. She looks forward to continuing her work on the Gripped book series!


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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.