Teen Novel “Blindsided” Shares Important Truths About Addiction & Recovery

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.

For a teenager, especially, there is a lot to learn from Gripped Part 2: Blindsided by Stacy A. Padula. The first thing that I learned from this book is how fast addiction can happen. It can start with what you think is harmless fun, but soon it becomes something that is a part of your everyday life, and you can’t shake off. Even surrounding yourself with people who use drugs can put you on a slippery slope and greatly increase your chances of entering that lifestyle. I think it’s also important to note how there is hope to recover and get on a better path after being addicted. Both Taylor Dunkin and his younger cousin Chris hit rock bottom but are in the process of trying to turn their lives around. 

At the beginning of the series, I pitied Taylor. He had everything going for him, the most important being his future to play football for Notre Dame. He was able to play on Northeastern’s team, but after a knee injury, he got hooked on prescription pills and lost hope that he would ever play in the NFL. Then, when he started supplying pills to his little brother’s best friend, I became angry with him. He was responsible for the drugs circulating in his hometown, and those effects would be harder to undo. Now, however, I have a lot of respect for Taylor, and see how strong he is. Despite the danger that he will be put in trying to get out of the dealing business, he wants to stop and help the police stop the drug circulation.    

So far, my two favorite characters in the series are Jason Davids and Chris Dunkin. Jason has so many sides and is always looking out for his friends, making sure that everyone feels comfortable. He never pressures his girlfriend Cathy to do anything that she does not want to do, and he is the only person looking out for her anxiety. Chris is another favorite of mine, and I have loved seeing his growth throughout the series. However, Chris was definitely not a favorite character of mine in book 1 or even in the first half of book 2. While I did feel bad for him because he was exposed to partying at such a young age by his older cousins, he was the one who got his friends into drinking and using drugs. After Chris almost overdosed, my opinion changed about him. I saw that he was serious about wanting to turn his life around, because he knew that he had almost died. He realized that he was a bad influence on his friends, and he wanted to start hanging out with people who had nothing to do with partying. Despite the hardships in Chris’s life, he was always concerned for other people, especially his girlfriend Lisa Ankerman, his best friend Jason Davids, and Taylor. 


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.