A Must-Read Novel For All High School Students

Written by Kyle Banker, University of Miami

As a freshman in college, I think that all teenagers who read “When Darkness Tries to Hide” (Montgomery Lake High Series, #2) by Stacy A. Padula will benefit by being introduced to the reality that all young adults will be exposed to drugs and alcohol, and many teenagers can be negatively affected by these substances. Specifically, the stories of past characters like Marc and Taylor Dunkin, along with current stories such as Cathy Kagelli and Jason Davids, prove that drugs can snatch the energy out of one’s life. Earlier on in the series, Cathy was known as a “good girl,” and did not drink or do any drugs. But, due to her environment, she fell in and began to abuse both pills and alcohol. I think that this transformation showcases how rapidly substances can alter a teenager’s life in not only Montgomery, but also other environments around the United States. 

I personally have gained a great amount of respect for protagonist Jason Davids, as he realized that his life involved many problems that needed to be fixed. In particular, he has become aware of his drug problem, and after speaking to Pastor Mark, I truly think that he will begin to detox and attempt to get drugs out of his life. Additionally, I hope that Jason will also separate from Cathy, as she has proven to be a bad influence on him. Although she initially was a good person when they first met, it is clear that Cathy has not realized the changes in her personality and habits, and as a result, Jason despises some of her actions. By breaking up with her, I believe that Jason will completely transform into a new person, and potentially one of my favorite characters in the series.

The last chapter of “When Darkness Tries to Hide” incorporates the idea of Jason being shadowed by darkness for some points in his life. In particular, Jason could not see the light in his life due to drugs and other bad influences that were encouraged by his friends. At the end of the novel, Jason finally subdues the itch to stay in the darkness and instead pursues the light, which essentially means that he broadly reflected on his environment and choices. From this, the reader is able to see what Jason truly thought about everything happening in his environment, and now he can make the right decisions and recommendations for himself and others based upon his current view on society. 

“When Darkness Tries to Hide” sends the positive message that anyone can change and recover from their harmful pasts. I believe that Chris Dunkin and Jason Davids will continue to fix their problems and avoid drugs for the long run. Additionally, I believe that after Andy Rosetti’s prayer service, it is likely that Jon, Jason, and Chris will begin to attend church more often, as they all found emotional benefits just from being in the building. Through all of this, this should encourage readers that no matter how deep of a hole a person is in, they can always dig out of it by seeking support and experimenting with different lifestyles.  


Jason Davids has not slept in thirty-seven hours. He glances at his clock: 7:20 p.m. 

You can do this, Jason, he says to himself. Just get up and go. Go tell them the truth. Tell everyone at Alyssa’s party that you found Andy’s body. Tell them that he looked dead. Tell them about the horror in Chantal’s eyes when she came rushing up the stairs. Make sure you tell them that it is all your fault.

One day after a tornado strikes Montgomery, Massachusetts, Andy Rosetti is in a coma with life-threatening injuries. Jason Davids and Chris Dunkin devise a plan to help Andy and unite the students at Montgomery Lake High School. However, no one–not even Chris–knows Jason’s secret about the day of the storm.

About Kyle Banker

Kyle graduated this spring from Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill. His favorite subjects include Biology, English, and Entrepreneurship. Some of his hobbies are playing soccer and hockey, volunteering, and being with friends and family. Kyle is studying Biological Sciences at the University of Miami.

Other Articles by Kyle:

Teen Book Series Educates Readers about Drug Abuse in a New Way

Why You Should Read the #1 New Release “Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told”

Kyle Banker on The “Gripped” Characters

A Teen’s Review of Gripped Part 1

Looking Ahead to Gripped Part 2 with Kyle Banker

What Should Readers Expect from Gripped Part 2 (To Be Released Later This Year)

May’s Q&A with Kyle Banker of Beaver Country Day School

Kyle Banker Reviews “The Right Person” by Stacy A. Padula – A Young Adult Novel

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.