Easton Teen Says Y.A. Novel Is Too Relevant To Be Ignored

Emily Han is a rising senior 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. 

Written by Emily Han, Easton, MA

The drug use and sexual content in Gripped Part 2: Blindsided by Stacy A. Padula will likely get it banned from schools, but the topics are too relevant in teenage culture to be ignored because drug addiction and teen sexuality are more present than ever. With schools avoiding these topics by banning books such as these, they are blinding children to these unavoidable problems. Kids need to learn that these problems are real and how to deal with them. 

Through reading the Gripped book series, teens can learn how to deal with peer pressure regarding drugs, alcohol, and sex. Gripped Part 2: Blindsided shows drug use as not just black and white as many schools do; its portrayal is more realistic. There is a grey area, especially with the characters. The multiple storylines develop different characters on their path with drugs, so readers can learn where drug use would lead them.


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.

Q&A with Emily about the Gripped Characters 

How has your opinion of Taylor changed from the beginning of the series until the end of book 2?

My opinion has increased. It seems like Taylor really wants to improve his relationship with his family and get out dealing. He’s stuck in the world of dealing, and wants his life back from before: his sports career, and his academics.

How has your opinion of Chris changed since the beginning of the series?

It has also increased, because by the end of the second book, he realizes that he has a massive problem, and is taking active steps to help himself live a healthier life. Although it took an almost drug overdose to realize he has a problem, he is trying to change. He is also not selfish enough to drag Lisa into his problems too, and breaks up with her to focus on his own health. 

After reading books 1 & 2, are you rooting for Cathy to end up with Jason or Marc? 

Marc is probably better for her, but as of right now, I only know of her relationship with Jason, and from the smaller interactions she has had with Marc, we know that she is depressed now. So I think I’m rooting for her and Jason, because he wants to be better for her, and we know that she was happy initially in that relationship. 

What are your honest thoughts on Chris and Lisa’s relationship?

I think they are better off apart. Although they love each other, initially their morals contrasted, which led to their initial breakup. They only got back together when high on ecstasy, which already points to a toxic relationship. I think Chris is too damaged for her, and both of them need people who are good influences on them. 

Who are your two favorite characters so far in the series and why?

Courtney and Cathy. Although we don’t know that much about Courtney so far, she’s obviously a new type of character that we haven’t met in the story. It’ll be interesting to see how she affects the other characters, mainly Chris. I like Cathy mainly because we have heard the most about her story. She also seems to have the best intentions for herself, she just does not understand the consequences or have learned about the dangers of what she is doing.

More Articles by Emily

Teens Relate to New Y.A. Book Series

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

Emily Han on the “Gripped” Characters

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.