An Interview with Isabelle Semas on “The Truth We Never Told”

Isabelle Semas is in her senior year of high school, and has been homeschooled most of her life.  She looks forward to graduating this year and hopes to pursue a career in Early Childhood Education.  In her spare time, she sings in a christian band named NHB with her friends, is very involved in her church’s children’s ministry, and enjoys art.  She hopes to someday publish a book of her own.

Who would you recommend Gripped Part 1 to and why?

I would recommend Gripped Part 1 to Highschool students looking for a read with a realistic take on the temptations which face kids as early as middle school.  This book addresses subjects such as underage drinking, drug addiction, and gossip.  These things can’t be ignored, and it’s important for teens to learn about the consequences of partaking in them. 

How do you as a young adult relate to the story? 

As a highschool student I can relate to the peer pressure felt by the characters in Gripped Part 1.  One example of this is when Luke tries to pressure Cathy to take a pill which she doesn’t want to.  Teens often look to impress other teens in the way they dress, the relationships they have, the things they do, even the way they speak.  While I have never been pressured to take drugs, I feel as though I can relate to the fear of disappointing other kids my age.  

What did you like best about the story? 

I like how Gripped Part 1 fills in a few of the storylines which the Montgomery Lake High series leaves open.  Through this book I gained a new perspective on a few characters.  It was interesting to read about Cathy and Jason’s early relationship, and Cathy and Chantal’s falling out.

What message does this book send to readers? 

Gripped Part 1 unveils what happens when one becomes consumed in sinful living.  Taylor Dunkin, former record-breaking football star, lives a life controlled by his drug addiction and guilt.  Addiction can turn even the most successful people into broken people, and it often starts young.

There are a few different storylines running through Gripped Part 1 because it is setting up the rest of the series. What storyline do you find the most interesting and why?

I find Cathy and Chantal’s storyline most interesting.  The Montgomery Lake High series tells of their fight from Chantal’s point of view, and Gripped Part 1 tells of it from Cathy’s point of view.  It was fascinating to read of the same incident from both perspectives.

Gripped Part 1 sets up the rest of the series but leaves a lot of things “hanging.” What are you most curious to uncover by reading Gripped Part 2? 

In chapter 31 Jason states, “…and you’ll finally understand why I am to blame for the shattered person Cathy is today.”  While reading the flashbacks of Cathy in middle school, I often wonder how she is the same character as the wild partier she has become in high school.  She is an extremely complex and troubled character.  I am curious as to how Jason could possibly be responsible for her change. 

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.

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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.