New Y.A. Novel Addresses Prevalent Issues in Teenage Culture

Written by Katherine Nally, Scituate, Massachusetts

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.

Recently, parents have been sheltering their kids more and more, especially regarding the books that they read in middle school. Three of my favorite books that I read in middle school have been banned because they were considered to have sensitive topics that kids cannot understand. The reality is that this is what is happening in teenagers’ lives, and it needs to be addressed. Therefore, I believe that middle and high school students should read the Gripped book series by Stacy A. Padula because it is about people their own age and addresses real issues. This series can be read as a warning to see what happens when you involve yourself with drugs, while also seeing that there is hope for recovery.

Gripped Part 2: Blindsided is a great book for middle schoolers, high schoolers, and parents alike to understand the dangers of addiction and substance abuse. The book begins in the present day, picking up from the end of Gripped Part 1. It focuses mainly on Taylor Dunkin, and his wakeup call to get away from drugs, and then moves into a long flashback. When in eighth grade, Chris Dunkin hosted a party which ended in him almost overdosing, and the rest of the book focuses on his journey afterwards. This novel demonstrates how what one might see as harmless fun can quickly turn into something life threatening. 

I would rate this book a 5/5 for its complex and intriguing plot! Not only does it discuss the dangers of addiction, but it also shows how you can get better. These two sides can help keep teenagers from getting involved in this lifestyle and give others hope who feel like they are too far in to get out. I believe that this book is super important for teenagers to read. Whenever anyone talks about addiction, kids think that it would never happen to them, but this is not the reality. I highly recommend Gripped Part 2: Blindsided for its insight into substance abuse, the opioid epidemic, and navigating relationships in your teenage years. 


Fourteen-year-old Chris Dunkin is known for being the life of the party and everyone’s favorite friend. Despite his amicable nature, he carries around deep-seated pain from his childhood that he frequently numbs with alcohol and drugs.

After hosting a party, Chris awakes with a strange vibe running through his body and no recollection of the previous night. When he learns the horrifying truth of what his night entailed, the trajectory of his life is changed forever.

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.