Refreshing Y.A. Book Prepares Teens to Make Difficult Decisions

Written by Emily Han, Easton, Massachusetts

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 book, Gripped Part 1, by Stacy Padula, is a fascinating breath of fresh air. Compared with the millions of books that portray an unrealistic ideal of drug abuse and high school experiences. Too often teenagers and young adults are set up with unrealistic expectations going into their lives, which leads them to be both unprepared and unaware of the power of drugs and alcohol in their social lives. This book allows kids to see these effects and start preparing for the involvement of drugs in their lives, and help them prepare for the life changing decisions they could have to make.

Through many various characters and storylines, Padula demonstrates how the decisions made by Taylor spiral down to affect every single character in multiple ways. Relationships from brotherly to romantic, and personal beliefs all are changed by Taylor’s decisions to supply drugs to the town of Montgomery. By reading, teens can learn how to deal with these potentially devastating decisions by reading about how they affect the characters who parallel people they know in their own lives.  

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.