A Rising Senior’s Take on Stacy Padula’s New Release “Gripped Part 2: Blindsided”

Written by Michael Farinacci of Medfield, Massachusetts

The drug use and sexual content in this book will surely get it banned from schools, but the topics are too relevant in teenage culture to be ignored. Why do you think this book should be read by kids in middle school and high school?

Although it would never be approved by any high school or middle school, every middle school and high school student should read this book. Gripped part 2, deals with many issues that are very prevalent to today’s high school and middle school students. These issues are very uncomfortable to talk about, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Teenagers, along with everybody, need to be aware and warned about these issues, so that they can not only avoid these dangerous activities, but help friends who are dealing with the issues that appear in this book.

What can kids learn from reading this book?

Michael Farinacci

One of the main benefits of reading Gripped part 2, and the entire Gripped series is that the book not only shows the horrors of substance abuse, but shows the buildup to substance abuse. Most likely, an addiction is not formed by one singular decision. Gripped part 2, does a great job of showing not only the worst day, but the first day. Kids can learn about certain decisions and behaviors that can lead to drug abuse, which not only allows for kids to avoid these decisions, but also allows for kids to scope out friends who make similar decisions and act similarly to the characters in the Gripped series, and try to veer them back on a safer path.

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

So far, my two favorite characters have been Jordan and Cathy. Jordan has specifically sparked my interest due to the mysterious nature of his character. Jordan has only appeared during parties, and mentioned as a football player, which is odd, because both his brothers have been integral to the plot. Cathy, unlike Jordan, has been central to the series and especially part 2. Cathy is so interesting because, although she has her set morals, she continuously morphs and bends her morals to accommodate her life. Her unpredictability with respect to her morals, makes the reader question every decision that she is going to make, which is fascinating.

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

I feel like Taylor is much more mature at the end of book 2 than he was at the beginning of the series. At the beginning of the series, Taylor seems self centered, mostly due to his drug abuse problems, and didn’t seem to care about getting more people addicted, or even the effect it had on his family. Although Taylor did need a catalyst, toward the end of part 2, Taylor seems to be on a much better path. He is no longer dealing drugs and is looking to transfer to finish his degree. 

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

My opinion of Chris has only slightly changed since the beginning of the series. Chris appeared to be the stereotypical middle school or high school party boy. He always wanted to be the life of the party, and get all the girls, which was true throughout the majority of part 2. However, Chris has finally recognized that his endless partying is a problem. He realizes that he needs help, which has lead me to respect him more, however he is going to need some serious help and support to overcome the addiction that he has built.

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

It seems as if Chris and Lisa’s relationship is very shallow, and only for physical pleasure. Throughout the story, it is rare to see Chris and Lisa talking about issues that they have, but they are frequently chasing pleasure with each other. Additionally, it seems odd that at the moment where Chris needs someone the most, he breaks up with Lisa, who is supposed to be his closest friend, instead of asking for her to help him. If it were a true loving relationship, Lisa wouldn’t break up with Chris, but find Chris the help he needs, and lead him on the path to recovery.

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

Personally, I’m rooting for Cathy to end up with Marc. I feel as if Marc is a much safer choice than Jason, as Jason has experimented with various types of drugs in the past. Additionally, when in a relationship with Cathy, Jason essentially corroded Cathy’s morals. Although it is hard to tell whether or not Marc will be good for Cathy, it will be hard for him to be worse than Jason, and he should provide a stable, fairly straight-edge companion, which is something that Cathy needs at this point.

About Gripped Part 2: Blindsided

Gripped Part 2: Blindsided guides the reader through a thrilling narrative, expertly utilizing flashbacks to demonstrate a complete picture of just how devastating and far-reaching substance abuse can impact not just an individual, but entire families and communities. It is an essential book for kids and parents alike.” – E. Harvey, Syracuse University

“One of the main benefits of reading Gripped Part 2: Blindsided, as well as the entire Gripped series, is that it not only shows the horrors of substance abuse, but also reveals the buildup to it. Blindsided depicts not just the worst days, but the first days. Through the story, teens are able to learn about decisions and behaviors that can lead to drug abuse. Throughout the story, the social lives of the different characters intertwine with each other, creating drama, conflict, and new friendships, which makes Blindsided a fascinating read.” – M. Farinacci, St. Sebastian’s School

Gripped Part 2: Blindsided is an engaging and easy read that is ideal for middle school and high school students, while also being very applicable to adults wanting to know more about teenage drug abuse. It shows the efforts that are needed to even attempt to overcome an addiction, which is shown to be extremely hard to complete. This would hopefully influence Padula’s target audience to avoid using drugs in order to prevent going through this tough and painful process. In all, I rate this book a 5/5.” – K. Banker, Beaver Country Day School


“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.


10% of proceeds from Gripped Part 2: Blindsided go to a different animal rescue each month!

About Michael Farinacci

Michael is a rising senior at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, Massachusetts. Additional articles by Michael:

A Junior from St. Sebastian’s School Shares His Opinion of “Gripped Part 1” by Stacy A. Padula

Michael Farinacci Reviews Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told

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

Looking Ahead to Gripped Part 2 with Michael Farinacci

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.