New Y.A. Novel is too Relevant to be Ignored

Written by Gianna Arcabascio, Pembroke, Massachusetts

Gianna Arcabascio is a junior at Archbishop Williams High school. She plays lacrosse and is the team manger for the football and boys hockey teams. In school, she is a part of student council and admissions ambassadors, and she is involved in a lot of leadership opportunities. She looks to pursue a future career as an athletic trainer.

The topics in Gripped Part 2: Blindsided by Stacy Padula are too relevant in teenage culture to be ignored. Blindsided is an amazing book that should be read by all high school and middle school students. It is not only educational but also a page turner that kept me “gripped” from cover to cover. The topics portrayed are important, as it is wise for teens to be informed about the consequences of drugs and alcohol. While being entertained by a thrilling story, kids can learn many lessons that will be of help to them in future situations.

While reading books one and two in the Gripped series, I have very much enjoyed the character development. In the beginning of the series, protagonist Taylor Dunkin was not in the right state of mind. Since then, he has (supposedly) sobered up, and he wants to go back to college. He is trying his best and it shows. Taylor’s younger cousin Chris, however, has definitely gotten himself into more trouble. Chris has experienced some dangerous things but now realizes his mistakes. Chris has decided it is time to sober up and face the pain from his childhood. I have a lot of respect for that and am personally rooting for him to succeed.

Between books one and two, many relationships fade, form, or strengthen. Personally, I am rooting for Cathy Kagelli and Jason Davids’ relationship—all the way. Jason would do anything for Cathy, and Cathy would do anything for him. They are never afraid to speak truth into each other’s lives, even if that means telling the other that they are wrong. I believe they are so much alike, yet so different, which draws them together in a visceral way. I also love Chris Dunkin and Lisa Ankerman’s relationship. Despite their trials, I believe they are right for one another. However, timing is a factor in their relationship; if they had met after Chris’s decline and rebound, they would have been better off. In the end, I feel their connection will bring them back to each other. So far in the Gripped series, my favorite characters are Cathy and Lisa because I feel a personal connection to each of them. The relatable characters, interesting storylines, and insightful flashbacks make Gripped Part 2: Blindsided the type of book you read in one sitting.


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.