An Interview with Caroline Markley on Gripped 2: Blindsided

Caroline Markley recently graduated from Marshfield High School, where she was the goalie of the Varsity lacrosse team and in National Honor Society. She is now attending Villanova University. She is an avid horseback rider who competes nationally and also an impressive artist. Caroline has a passion for the environment and is studying environmental science in college.

  1. The drug use and sexual content in Gripped Part 2: Blindsided will surely get it banned from schools, but the topics are too relevant in teenage culture to be ignored. Why do you think this book should be read by kids in middle school and high school?

This book should be read by kids in middle school and high school because it brings attention to these important issues and makes them aware of the consequences. It shows them how much of an effect drugs can have on a person’s life and how it can turn one’s life completely upside down. By reading it early on in life, hopefully one can avoid the problems that Taylor had and learn from his mistakes. 

  1. What can kids learn from reading this book?

Kids can learn how drugs affect a person’s life and how it has the potential to ruin someone’s life and even get them killed. They can also learn how drugs affect a person’s relationships with their family members and how long it can take to rebuild that relationship. Another thing that is great about this book that kids can take away from it is how one can relate to it and how they can use it to help them as they journey through high school (and have questions about these types of things). 

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

I had always felt bad for Taylor. After hearing speeches about people’s lives after their opioid addiction, I know what it’s like for a person trying to recover and get their life back so I know what Taylor is going through. I am glad that Taylor wants to turn his life around and am happy that he is considering transferring; even if that may be his last option, I think it would be good for him to get a fresh start. 

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

I hadn’t really thought much of Chris at the beginning of the series. I thought he was just a kid that liked to party a lot and have fun, but after reading about him in Gripped 2, I realized what his life was really like growing up with parents that weren’t there half the time. Seeing him try to turn things around after nearly dying when he combined Vicodin, Xanax, and alcohol together really showed how he wants to become a better person, not just for Lisa, but also for himself. 

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

Although I feel that Marc is good for Cathy and brings a sense of maturity into her life that I felt she needed, Jason is the one she should be with. Marc is a great guy, but Jason is Cathy’s soulmate I believe, especially with the note that Jason wrote to Cathy expressing his feelings towards her. Jason and Cathy’s relationship was electric ever since the moment they first met each other at Chris’s party. 

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

I thought Lisa was good for Chris and really understood what Chris was going through with his whole family situation and how his parents were not really there to raise him. Even though it was sad that they broke up, I feel like that break up was good for Chris because it forced him to want to change his life and become sober. I believe that if Chris can turn his life around and Lisa waits for him, then they can truly be a good couple for each other. 

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

So far in the series, I really like Jason and Taylor. I like Jason because I think he is a great character that truly cares about his friends and Cathy and wants to do good by everyone. I really like Taylor because even though his life turned into a mess, he didn’t give up and wants to fix things. He wants to make things right again with his family and wants to get back to school. He is an inspiration for kids who have struggled with addiction, and his story shows how one’s life isn’t completely over after battling addiction.

“Gripped Part 2: Blindsided guides the reader through a thrilling narrative, expertly utilizing flashbacks to demonstrate a complete picture of just how devastating and far-reaching substance abuse can be, as it impacts not just individuals, but entire families and communities. It is an essential young adult book for kids and parents alike.” – E. Harvey, Emerson College

“One of the main benefits of reading Gripped Part 2: Blindsided, as well as the entire Grippedseries, is that it not only shows the horrors of substance abuse, but also reveals the buildup to it. Blindsided depicts not just the worst days, but the first days. Through the story, teens are able to learn about decisions and behaviors that can lead to drug abuse. Throughout the story, the social lives of the different characters intertwine with each other, creating drama, conflict, and new friendships, which makes Blindsided a fascinating read.” – M. Farinacci, St. Sebastian’s School


“What other drugs have you tried?” Lisa asked.
“Weed, mushrooms, ecstasy, mescaline, acid, Adderall, Xanax, Klonopin, and Vicodin, but this one is, by far, the best,” Chris replied without any hesitation.
Lisa widened her eyes. “Wow. You’ve tried a lot of stuff since we broke up.”

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.

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.