An Enjoyable & Informative Way For Teens to Learn about the Dangers of Drug Abuse

By Joe Siracusa—Braintree, Massachusetts

Joseph Siracusa, Xaverian Brothers High School Class of 2021

As seen in “Gripped Part 2: Blindsided” by Stacy A. Padula, drug use and sexual intercourse are very present in high school culture. Reading this book as a senior in high school is a very enjoyable and informative way to learn about the dangers of these topics. The whole Gripped series should be read by kids in middle school and high school.

“Gripped Part 2” makes it clear that kids should stay far away from any drugs. At a young age, most of the main characters in the series fall into abusive drug addictions. From these main characters, kids will learn that taking drugs not only damages physical and mental health, but it also breaks relationships between those who were once inseparable.

Taylor Dunkin

After reading the first two books of the Gripped series, my opinion on Taylor Dunkin has changed a lot. At first, I looked at Taylor as a low-life drug addict and dealer who lured Montgomery’s youth into addiction. After reading “Gripped Part 2,” I believe that Taylor is doing his best to improve his life. I admire Taylor’s courage in trying to recover from addiction and return to the Northeastern football team. I felt devastated as a reader when Taylor’s season was cut short by an ACL and MCL tear.

Chris Dunkin

At the beginning of the Gripped series, Chris Dunkin seemed like a kid with no problems, who everyone liked being around. After stumbling into a crippling drug addiction, we begin to see Chris’s internal struggles. When Chris chose to become sober, I began to respect his character. I’m rooting for Chris on his journey through sobriety in hopes that he fixes the bonds he broke.

Jason vs. Marc

After reading the first two Gripped books, I truly believe that Jason and Cathy have a true connection. Although Cathy and Jason’s breakup had ended on an unhealthy note, the relationship they once had was on a different level. Marc Dunkin is a caring and loving person, but he does not seem like the person who is truly meant to be with Cathy. If Cathy and Jason can overcome their drug addictions, they have the potential to have a great relationship.

Chris and Lisa

Chris and Lisa’s relationship is far from healthy. I think that Chris has to truly find his old self and become mentally healthy before he can achieve a healthy relationship with Lisa. If Chris spends some time on himself, there is a possibility of a second chance in the relationship. If things do not work out with Lisa, there are always other girls in Montgomery who would love to date Chris.

Favorite Characters

Jason Davids and Chris Dunkin are my favorite characters in the series. Jason decides to turn his life around and make up for what he has done to Cathy. He knows that he has not been himself recently and wants to focus on rebuilding. I admire Chris for what he has had to overcome in “Gripped Part 2.” He was always aiming to recover from who he was and knows he will never give up in his efforts. These two best friends both have lots of issues, but I admire them both for what they have done to fix them.

About Joseph Siracusa

Joseph Siracusa is currently the president of the senior class at Xaverian Brother’s High School. In his free time, Joseph enjoys graphic designing, playing soccer, watching sports, and learning about many different topics. Joseph plans on studying finance in college, in hopes of pursuing a career in it.

More articles by Joseph

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.