Joanna Dakoyannis Discusses the Gripped Book Series Characters

After reading Gripped Parts 1, 2, and 3 by Stacy A. Padula, Joanna Dakoyannis, a senior at Dover-Sherborn High School, shared her opinion on some of the series’ main characters.

Cathy & Jason

Cathy and Jason’s evolving and destructive relationship was very compelling. It was interesting to see how they used drugs and alcohol to mask their emotions and try to make themselves feel better. In reality, they only caused themselves more pain and destruction by not addressing the true problems.

Jason is the character in this series who intrigues me most. I am curious to see whether he is able to turn his life around and help Cathy at the same time. Jason has realized that his destructive behavior has had a negative impact on his and his friends’ lives and is trying to find his way out. I am interested to see if he is able to make a fresh start.


Chris has had a long journey. He was involved in heavy drug use at a very early age, at times, even urging his friends to try things that he was doing. His parents often left him in the care of his older cousins, who were very into partying and drugs. After a scary, near-death incident, he decides to become sober. This involves removing himself from social situations and certain friends whose behavior was similar to his. The story shows that if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, there is a way out. Surrounding yourself with the right people can be crucial to recovery.


Jordan appears to be a character who is trying to turn his life around and is on a good track. Since leaving Montgomery Lake High and attending Notre Dame, he has been able to leave the party scene behind him and focus on his athletics and academics. I feel like he is in a good place and is focusing on himself and his relationship with his family.


The storyline of Taylor and his involvement with dealing drugs was also always in the background. I was eager to learn what would happen between him, his family, and the police investigation.

Eighteen-year-old Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost—one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger.

Twenty-three-year-old Taylor Dunkin is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

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.