Olivia Syat Breaks Down the Characters and Relationships in “Gripped 2”

Written by Olivia Syat, Sharon, Massachusetts

Olivia Syat

At the beginning of the Gripped book series, my opinions of multiple characters were different from what they are now because the story told in parts 1 and 2 sheds light on past experiences, providing the reader with greater insight into the characters’ rationales, motivations, and backgrounds. At first, I believed protagonist Taylor Dunkin had gotten caught up in the social life of college, caring more about his reputation than his education. However, over the course of the two books, I came to feel bad for Taylor because he was stuck in a difficult situation with no outlets. Through the direct characterization and dialogue, it is obvious that Taylor desired to be back with his family and to make amends, but he was too ashamed of himself. I think he means well and, with time, will be back to his old self. 

Additionally, at the beginning of the series, Chris Dunkin (Gripped 2’s protagonist) seemed shallow. He cared more about fitting in than being a good person and was going about being “mature” in the wrong way. In Gripped Part 2: Blindsided, the focus shifted from Cathy Kagelli to Chris, transporting readers into his life. It became apparent that his bad habits stemmed from the lack of love in his life, especially from his parents. However, he did love one person more than anything else in the world: Lisa. He proved himself to be selfless when he let her go to allow her to enjoy a life without extra complications. Also, instead of spiraling like his older cousin Taylor, he took his near-death experience as a wakeup call and befriended new people to keep himself clean, allowing a new characteristic of himself to emerge: responsibility. For these reasons, I learned to go from disliking Chris to respecting him. However, as much as I love Chris and his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend, Lisa Ankerman, I don’t think their relationship is healthy. I believe if Chris stays completely clean for a while, it may be worth a second chance, but a relationship without trust is never strong. Although it hurts both of them to be separated, I think deep down they know it is for the best. 

Jason Davids & Cathy Kagelli

In addition to Chris and Lisa’s relationship, the ongoing love triangle between Cathy Kagelli, Marc Dunkin, and Jason Davids has captivated my attention. Although I love Marc for being the most authentic person in the book, I don’t think Cathy is the right girl for him. Jason and Cathy have a history of ups and downs, but they are also each other’s first loves. Cathy never fully gives herself to Marc, leading readers to believe that she will always cling to that string of hope that her and Jason will end up together. Drugs altered Jason and Cathy’s personalities, causing their breakup, but if they continue to stay sober, I hope they can finish their epic love story. 

Overall, my two favorite characters in the series are Jason Davids and Chris Dunkin. Jason is always looking for the best in others—even when others aren’t willing to give them a second glance. He strives to be the best version of himself and leads with his heart. Chris exhibits immense strength by overcoming much adversity. Although others may be tempted to give up on him, he will never give up on anyone important to him. Both characters are loyal and display integrity. It is clear that they are best friends for a reason!

About Olivia Syat

Olivia Syat is a senior at Sharon High School. She has a passion for learning, volunteering, and special education. She is a leader in her community through programs such as friendship circle, E.D.A.F, teen speak out, and pathways. She hopes to go into a field pertaining to special education and to always encourage others to keep an open mind.

More Articles by Olivia:

Sharon High School’s Olivia Syat on Stacy Padula’s Novel Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told

A New Kind of Teen Book Series Hits the Shelves!

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.