New Y.A. Novel Opens Up Conversations Between Teens and Parents

Written by Bradford Campbell, Duxbury, MA

Bradford Campbell is currently a senior at Thayer Academy. He is captain of their Varsity Soccer and Track and Field teams. In school, Bradford is a 2020 Student Government Representative and Peer Advisor for freshman students. He also enjoys volunteering for Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity. Bradford participates in Thayer’s theatre program and his favorite subjects include science and history in addition to English.

Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula is centered around the high school partying atmosphere written from both middle and high school perspectives. No matter who you are or what town you live in, you are bound to encounter substances such as drugs and alcohol throughout high school, and possibly even earlier. Gripped illustrates how substance use can seem harmless at first. However, the novel provides insight into the dark sides of substance abuse, and takes a deeper dive into the problems it causes. Gripped is a great educational resource that would be helpful for opening up conversations about drug and alcohol abuse.

Gripped focuses on the Dunkin family which consists of Taylor, Jordan and Marc and their friends, and their younger cousin Chris and his friends. Centered around an ongoing plot surrounding Taylor, a once record-breaking high school quarterback, Gripped Part 1 also shows what happens behind the scenes at the Dunkin’s parties. In a flashback, Chris introduces his friend Cathy, a pretty Catholic girl, to his best friend Jason, an intelligent, charismatic“player” and their relationship blossoms. Gripped Part 1 discusses relationships, friendships and faith, and many other aspects of high school social life. Overall, Gripped is a page-turner that always leaves you wanting to know what will happen next. I would rate Gripped a 5/5 and would recommend it to early high school students.


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.