Teens Relate to New Y.A. Book Series

Written by Emily Han, Easton, MA

Emily Han is a junior at Oliver Ames High School in Easton, Massachusetts. She is the captain of her varsity field hockey team and a leader on her club team, Lead The Way. She is a member of National Honor Society and a founder of the PAWS Club and an active member of the Jimmy Fund Club. Her hobbies include scuba diving, exercising, and volunteering at local field hockey clinics and with Save The Bay.  She hopes to major in Environmental Science and play field hockey in college. 

The Young Adult novel, Gripped by Stacy A. Padula is an excellent read for teens and young adults. It explores the relationships from seventh graders to college students, so readers between those ages can expect to see relationships that reflect those in their own life: brothers, cousins, dating and friendship drama. As the story progresses, the relationships continually change through the use of drugs and alcohol, providing the readers with a chance to see what can happen to their own relationships through drug use. 

At my high school, every student hears the rumours about who is using, who got caught, and who has gone off the deep end. While some of these have no merit, the parallels drawn between this book and the rumours I hear at my high school are scarily similar. I have also seen these characters reflected in students I know. The tainted innocence represented by Cathy reminds me of one of my former best friends. The amazing athlete who parties just as hard as he plays, like Chris and Jordan, reminds me of a boy in my physics class. 

I really enjoyed all the different characters and their interactions. As they changed with the use of drugs and alcohol, so did their relationships, showing how Taylor’s decisions to sell drugs affected every single character in the book. From breakups to college sports recruitment, every aspect of every character’s life was changed through one decision. 

This book emphasizes the message to be mindful of the consequences for your actions, both for yourself and those around you. Taylor’s decision ruined multiple relationships, from romantic to familial, of people who were not directly related to him. He shifted the path of his life and everyone in his town through his decisions, which he thought would affect no one but him. In Gripped 2, I’m interested in finding out if Taylor will recover and aid the police in their efforts. I am also curious to see if the characters will all have a “happy ending.”


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.

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.