A Book Series All Teens Should Start Reading

Article by Jennifer O’Sullivan, Dover, Massachusetts

I would recommend Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy A. Padula to young adults, especially those who are in high school or are part of a friend group that likes to party with substances involved. I think that this book really shows how easy it is to fall prey to addiction, even if you think what you’re doing is harmless or occasional. Gripped Part 1 really highlights Cathy, a young, smart girl who was always very kind and active in her church. As Cathy develops a crush on a boy and is trying to protect her twin sister from a toxic relationship, she gets involved with a group of people who often use substances like drugs and alcohol. This story also focuses a lot on Taylor, a talented high school football player who was destined to play professional football, but slipped into the clutches of opiate addiction. Therefore, I would recommend this book to all teenagers, so that they can really be aware of the realistic dangers of substance use and abuse. 

As a senior in high school, I have seen many people “innocently” use certain substances for the first time in a social setting or at a party, and before they even know it, they have formed an addiction. These people have been athletes, members of clubs, or good friends of mine. I have seen upstanding, honest students turn into completely different people at the hands of substances. I attend high school in an “upper class” town; a place where you wouldn’t expect kids to turn to substances. As a teenager, I relate to this story, because I can see how valid it actually is in real life. 

The aspects of this story that I enjoyed the most were the characters and character development. I found all of the people in the book to be kind, funny and relatable. Throughout Gripped Part 1, I found myself connecting with all of the characters and feeling as if I knew them, due to the extensive access I had into their lives and thoughts as a reader. Furthermore, the shock of how easily people fell into a pattern of substance abuse was heightened, because of how normal and upstanding these characters were. In addition to the fact that the characters made the story more real and compelling, it was also a fun book to read because I loved to hear about the lives of these people. 

Gripped Part 1 definitely sends a lot of important messages to its audience, but one of them is definitely to always stay in touch with who you are. It is extremely obvious that this book is teaching young adults to stay away from substances, because they will quickly ruin your life, but there is more to it. When many of these characters experiment with substances, they find themselves filled with guilt and shame and they often end up in situations where they have to lie or go against their character. Due to the fact that these substances can be so addictive, many characters, like Taylor and Cathy, don’t stop their destructive behavior and therefore drift completely away from who they used to be. This book encourages the reader to make sure that he/she always knows who they are and where their priorities lie, because this will keep them from making the wrong decision. This is important because sometimes once a decision is made, it’s too late to go back!

About Jennifer O’Sullivan

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.

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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.