Y.A. Novel “Blindsided” Recommended for Early High School Students

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.

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. The Gripped book series by Stacy A. Padula is centered around the high school partying atmosphere, written from a both middle and high school perspective.

Gripped illustrates how substance use can seem harmless at first. The series however, provides insight to 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 Part 2: Blindsided takes off right where Gripped Part 1 leaves off, as readers seek to find where Jason and Cathy’s relationship went wrong and what happens next to Taylor. In a flashback in Gripped Part 2, the reader finds out about Chris’ horrific experience at a party and his realization of how everyone around him has changed due to drugs and alcohol. The friend group comes to an awkward division as friends break up, and substances begin to take over and change people’s personalities. Like her first book, Padula’s Gripped Part 2 is a page-turner that always leaves you wanting to know what will happen next. I would rate Gripped 2: Blindsided a 5/5 and would recommend it to early high school students.


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.

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