Sophia Coggeshall Breaks Down the “Gripped” Characters

Written by Sophia Coggeshall, Marshfield, Massachusetts

The storyline with Taylor Dunkin and the police in Gripped by Stacy A. Padula is most interesting to me because I am so curious to see what will happen with his future. As of where the book leaves off, it seems as though Taylor has a much better, more positive mindset as he is clean and has come to terms with the guilt he feels for supplying so many young teens with drugs, but he had gotten himself so deep in the drug dealing business that I really don’t know what will happen with him and the police. Not only am I interested to see what happens with Taylor, but I am also curious to find out more about the leader of the drug dealing, Donny Bilotti. 

I like Marc Dunkin because he actually understands the dangers that come along with drugs. He stays true to his own morals, refusing to take part in the drugs that all of his closest friends have involved themselves in. I also really like Marc because he makes sure to look out for his older brother, Taylor, as he struggles with the drastic consequences and effects of addiction. Jordan Dunkin, however, frustrates me because he is at fault for introducing Chris and all of Chris’s friends to substances that they, as middle schoolers, should not be involved in. Jordan is the one who was constantly supplying Chris with alcohol and who was influencing him to try weed for the first time. Jordan is a bad influence towards Chris and is partially responsible for the bad choices that Chris and his friends have chosen to take part in in high school.

One character I feel bad for throughout Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told is Chantal Kagelli because she is constantly being deceived by those who are closest to her, whether it’s Jon refraining from telling her the truth about what he had done at some of Chris’s parties or whether it’s her own sister, Cathy, who chose to never tell Chantal that she was partially at fault for her breakup with Jon. Jon and Cathy may claim that they are hiding things from Chantal in order to protect her happiness, but it’s not right for her to be constantly lied to. I despise Jon because he chose to continuously lie to Chantal about what he had done at Chris’s parties for he was too ashamed to tell her the truth. Jon wasn’t thinking about how his actions were affecting those around him, especially Chantal, who had been nothing but open and honest with him. Jon’s decisions to constantly hide the truth from Chantal as well as choose to spend time with Alyssa over Chantal weren’t fair at all to Chantal.

In Gripped Part 2, I am most curious to find out what happens with the relationship between Chantal and Cathy. At the end of Gripped Part 1, Jason Davids finally tells Chantal the truth about how Cathy never intended to break Chantal and Jon up, and rather it was Jon who mistook Cathy’s voice for Chantal’s. I am so interested to see if Chantal and Cathy will be able to make up and be as close as they were before all of the drama took place. In the book, I most relate to Cathy because I feel like she puts a lot of thought and consideration into the choices and decisions she makes which I can relate to more than someone like Lisa, who is more impulsive with her decisions. Cathy is very considerate of other people’s feelings and will often put others needs before her own, such as when she put it upon herself to help Chantal get out of her toxic relationship with Jon. 

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.