New Young Adult Book Addresses the Stigma Surrounding Drugs, Alcohol, & Teenagers

Article by Katherine Nally, Scituate, MA

The book Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy A. Padula is a fast-paced and complex novel—perfect for tweens, teens, and parents—that is hard to put down. The many different storylines are captivating and make you want to read the entire book in one sitting. Gripped Part 1 introduces Taylor Dunkin, a drug addict and dealer who was once an acclaimed college football star. Everyone in his town looked up to him, but after a knee injury left him unable to play, Taylor got addicted to his prescription painkillers. This novel focuses on the consequences of this event and introduces many other characters who are getting drawn towards a lifestyle of using dangerous substances because of Taylor’s decisions.

I believe every teenager and parent should read this novel, as it is both educational and intriguing. – Katherine Nally

I rate Gripped Part 1 a 5 out of 5 and definitely recommend reading it! It will help readers see how easily good kids can get caught up in drugs, as well as how a recreational activity can turn into an addiction. As a senior in high school, I believe it is super important that teenagers understand the full effects of drugs, and this book does an excellent job of explaining the consequences. It demonstrates that it is easy to get caught on a dark path no matter where you come from, how much money you have, or who your friends are. The author also addresses the stigma surrounding drugs and alcohol, and how the only way to stop the growing opioid epidemic is to talk about it, and help those who need it. I believe every teenager and parent should read this novel, as it is both educational and intriguing. 



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.

In its release week, Gripped was ranked by Amazon as the #1 New Release on Kindle in its genre

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.