New Teen Book Series’ Dynamic Characters Will Leave You Gripped

Article by Sophia Coggeshall, Marshfield, MA

After becoming particularly “gripped” by Massachusetts author Stacy Padula’s Gripped book series, my two favorite characters are Chris Dunkin and Marc Dunkin. Despite having such a troubling childhood and being neglected by his money-loving parents, Chris lives his life putting the happiness of those around him before his own—a trait that makes me strongly admire his character. Marc is another one of my favorites after reading the first two books in the series, for I really appreciate his responsibility and loyalty to his friends and family. He is not affected by the peer pressure around him and always sticks to his morals, resulting in him being a good influence on others.

At the beginning of the series, I viewed Chris strictly as a partier who was influencing his friends to make bad decisions that were not good for their health or well-being. However, after reading Gripped Part 2, I truly admire and sympathize with Chris, for I see how compassionate he truly is. His relationship with Lisa Ankerman in which he goes out of his way to make her happy shows just how thoughtful of a person he is. It is remarkable that despite everything that Chris has gone through with his home and family life–being neglected and unloved by his own parents and being raised by his seemingly reckless cousins–he is still able to put others happiness before his own. While I think that Chris and Lisa’s relationship has great benefits, for it is clear that the two care deeply for each other, their relationship can often have negative effects on the two of them, which leads me to believe that they may be better off separated. As much as I think Chris’s dedication towards making Lisa happy is admirable, his actions are not always a good influence on Lisa.

My opinion of Chris’s older cousin Taylor has drastically changed since the beginning of the series until the end of Gripped Part 2. At the beginning of the series, I did not have much sympathy for Taylor but rather saw him as a bad influence on not just his younger brothers but on many of the students in Montgomery. However, after learning of the devastating reasons behind why he got involved in drugs in the first place, I can’t help but feel bad for him. He never meant to become a drug addict or a drug dealer. I can only imagine the devastation and utter sadness I would feel if everything I had worked so hard for throughout my entire life was taken away in an instant from an injury. Also, in the second book of the series, I have gained a newfound respect for Taylor because I can tell he is trying to improve his life by staying sober and making an effort to return to his studies. 

Following another main storyline in the series, it is clear that there are still strong mutual feelings between main characters, Cathy Kagelli and Jason Davids. Although the two have a long history together, I am rooting for Cathy to remain broken up with Jason and to end up with Marc Dunkin. Jason has definitely bettered as a person over the course of the last year, but I believe Cathy still has a lot of growing and changing to do when it comes to her health and dangerous drug habits. Therefore, I think Marc would be a better person to help Cathy cope with her issues than Jason. In the end, Marc is much more reliable and trustworthy than Jason, and Cathy needs a responsible person like him to give her strength and support. 

About Sophia Coggeshall

Sophia is a senior at Marshfield High School in Marshfield, Massachusetts. She is a competitive Irish Step dancer who has competed several times at the Regional, National, and World Championships, and she also plays on the Varsity Field Hockey team for her high school. With a great passion for math and science in the classroom, she looks forward to studying engineering in college.

Other Articles by Sophia:

Sophia Coggeshall Reviews “Gripped Part 1” By Stacy A. Padula

Gripped on Gripped: Why Teens Will Love This New Book Series

Sophia Coggeshall Breaks Down the Gripped Characters

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.