New Teen Fiction Book Helps Kids Realize Their Choices Today Matter

Article by Katherine Nally of Scituate, Massachusetts

As a seventeen year old in high school, I have definitely been exposed to both drugs and alcohol. When I was younger, I watched plenty of movies and TV shows with high schoolers drinking and doing drugs at parties, but I thought that was only something that happened on television. Now, being around the age of the characters in the book, I am fully aware of what really goes on at this age. Kids at my school cannot go a full school day without vaping in the bathrooms, they rely on alcohol to have fun at parties, and prescription pills that are not prescribed to them. A huge focus in our health classes are drugs and how easy it is to become addicted, but students do not want to listen to teachers who seem like they are scolding them. Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy A. Padula is the perfect book for tweens and teens because it is a true version of what happens as a young adult. It is a fast-paced and complex novel perfect for teens and parents that is hard to put down.

I would recommend Gripped Part 1 to middle and high school students because I think that it is important that children get exposed to these topics at a young age, which will make them easier to understand. Reading this book will help kids see how their choices can affect the rest of their lives, and something can be taken away that they once worked so hard for. I think it is also important for parents to read this book. It can help them understand what their child is being exposed to and give them a better sense of how to approach the topic with their children. As a society, we don’t like to believe that there are kids abusing alcohol and drugs at such a young age, but the reality is that it does happen. This book clearly explains the ramifications of taking drugs and the exposure that most children have to them. 

My favorite part about Gripped Part 1 was the interwoven storylines that focused on dozens of characters and their relationships over a two year period. The flashback in the middle of the novel helps us understand how the characters got to where they are now. I liked how even though a lot of the characters were different ages and had different personalities, they were all tied in someway to another character. I also enjoyed how there was a wide array of characters, each with unique traits, so I could find one to connect with. The main message that this book sends to readers is how fast you can go from being on top of the world to the total opposite. Before Taylor’s knee injury, he was a top prospect to play in the NFL, but once he got hooked on prescription medication, this goal disappeared before his eyes. It helps warn kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and shows how recreational use can quickly turn to addiction. Another focus in this book is the dangers of peer pressure. Chris’s early exposure to drugs and alcohol from his older cousins and their friends led him to drink and do drugs, and then get his friends hooked on them as well. 

I am most curious to read Gripped Part 2 to find out what happens with Taylor and the police. In the last chapter of Gripped Part 1, a detective interrupted Marc’s meeting at BC to talk to him about Taylor. Since the Boston Police Department did not want to make direct contact with Taylor, as it would be suspicious, the detective gave Marc a phone for Taylor. I cannot wait to see if Taylor will get out of the drug dealing business for good, or if Bilotti will rope him in again. This plotline was left hanging, and I can’t wait to see if Marc will also get involved.

Gripped Part 1 is sold at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, and other major retailers

About Katherine Nally

Katherine (Kate) is a senior at Scituate High School. She is actively involved in a variety of extracurriculars, with a clear passion for serving others. She has ventured twice to West Virginia with the Appalachia Service Project and looks forward to doing more service trips in college. She is also an active member of Best Buddies and Student Government. In college, Kate is looking forward to exploring a broad array of coursework from English to science and beyond.


In high school, Taylor Dunkin broke more records than any other athlete to step foot in Montgomery, Massachusetts. As a sophomore in college, he was ranked by ESPN as one of the NFL’s top 100 prospects. However, his aspirations came to a jarring halt when a knee injury and two surgeries left him sidelined.

One year later, Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential investigation headed by the Boston Police Department. He has entangled himself in a crime ring notorious for pushing opiates, cocaine, and benzodiazepines on local college campuses.

When Taylor’s younger brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious drug supply circulating around Montgomery Lake High School, he sets off to not only reverse the damage Taylor has caused, but also save his lifelong role model from becoming a casualty of America’s deadly opioid epidemic.

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.