New Young Adult Novel Takes an Uncensored Look at the Opioid Crisis

Written by Caroline Markley, Marshfield, Massachusetts

The new young adult book, Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy A. Padula is an intriguing book that allows readers to relate to characters in the story and learn from the things they have done. From this story, one can learn about the tragedy of becoming addicted to opiods and how it can affect your future. Taylor, a superstar athlete, was destined to play at a pristine university and make it to the professional level, but a terrible injury turned his life upside down. Now, the hometown hero must get back on track when his brother, Marc, and his father come to visit. 

This story also explores a group of students as they embark on their journey through high school. One can learn from the characters and the mistakes that they make as they go to parties and start experimenting with drugs and alcohol. It shows readers what can happen if things are taken too far. Overall, I would rate this book 5/5 stars and would say it is a quick read that is perfect for high school students but everyone should read this book. I loved this book and the characters along with it and can’t wait to read the second one. 


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


Caroline is a senior at Marshfield High School, where she is the goalie of the Varsity lacrosse team and in National Honor Society. She is an avid horseback rider who competes nationally and also an impressive artist. Caroline has a passion for the environment and hopes to study environmental science in college.

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.