A College Freshman’s Take on “Gripped Part 2: Blindsided” by Stacy Padula

Written by Jenna Finnerty—Norwell, 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?

I think this book should be read by kids in middle school and high school because it shows how addictions can start and how tricky it is to get rid of them. It also shows how even after you become sober, you can still be involved in other people’s drug usage. Not only does it affect your own life, but it can influence everyone around you. 

What can kids learn from reading this book?

This book will hopefully influence teens to abstain from drugs and alcohol after reading about the effects it has on everyone’s lives. Teens who read this book will also learn what could happen to them if they do end up getting involved with drugs. Similar to Taylor’s situation, drugs can ruin someone’s life after becoming addicted.

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

I like Taylor and Jason the most. I like Taylor because I think he is trying to get back to a normal life, but is pretty deep into drugs, even if he is sober. Hopefully once Marc talks to him, Taylor will be able to reach his full potential once again. I like Jason as well because I think he is trying to positively influence everyone around him. Although he has made some poor choices in the past, he always tried to keep an eye out for Cathy and Chris when they were struggling. 

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

I felt bad for Taylor all along. I found it frustrating how he threw away all of the opportunities he was given, but I wanted him to get back on track and get his old life back. Now hearing more about the police storyline, I think he will have a good chance at becoming a normal college kid again, as long as he continues to stay away from drugs. 

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

I think Gripped Part 2 has given a lot of background information on Chris. Although it shows all of the bad things he has done, it has given an explanation for all of them. Hearing his backstory makes me feel bad for him and I want him to get better too. 

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

After reading more about Cathy and Jason’s previous relationship, I think they are good together. They went through a lot with each other, and now that Jason has recovered, I think they should get back together. I like Marc as well, but I think some of his friends can be a bad influence on Cathy, considering her troubling past. 

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

I think that Lisa can be a good influence on Chris, but I also think Chris is a bad influence on Lisa. Lisa helped Chris not to drink for a while, but as soon as she wasn’t around, he drank again. Chris on the other hand, told Lisa he was giving her an energy drink when in reality, it was molly. I think once Chris gets his act together, him and Lisa would be good together again.

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 go to a different animal rescue every month!

About Jenna Finnerty

Jenna Finnerty graduated in June from Norwell High School in Norwell, Massachusetts. She is planning to major in nursing next year and to attend the University of New Hampshire. Jenna has accrued years of experience as a cheerleader and gymnast. She also has a passion for traveling and looks forward to studying abroad in college.

Articles by Jenna:

Q&A on MLH #1 with Jenna Finnerty

The Right Person by Stacy Padula Accurately Depicts High School Social Challenges

Hope Found in Darkness: A Young Adult Book Review by Jenna Finnerty

Q&A with Jenna Finnerty on Young Adult Novel “When Darkness Tries to Hide”

Jenna Finnerty’s Take on New Y.A. Novel “Gripped” by Stacy Padula

May’s Q&A with Jenna Finnerty of Norwell High School

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.