Emily Han Discusses the Dual Timeline Development in Stacy Padula’s “Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors”

Emily Han

By Emily Han, Easton, Massachusetts

As I read Gripped Part 4: Smoke and Mirrors by Stacy A. Padula, finding out how the characters’ past actions affected them in the present was my favorite part. The dual timelines in the novel show the choices the characters made previously as well as how those choices affect them in the future. We can see how Cathy and Jason’s choices affect them and their relationship as well as how Taylor gradually falls into failure. 

I like the dual timelines. Drug and alcohol use is both a short-term and long-term choice. Therefore, the two timelines show both of those effects. There is a development over time that we see because of the two timelines. 

My thoughts on some of the main characters…

Luke: I think he’s gotten a bad rap because of how rumors circulate in high school. It seemed like he sold drugs of all kinds to everyone in town, but in reality he was more clean than his brother, who everyone assumed was the better person. 

Jason: Jason continues to become a more and more selfish character in Gripped Part 4. This is when we see him become more self-centered and rude. The effects of drugs have clearly affected him, his work, and his relationships negatively. 

Cathy: Cathy is following Jason down a terrible path. She is prioritizing their relationship instead of hers or Jason’s health. Rather than forcing Jason to realize his actions and breaking up with him, she is staying in an unhealthy relationship. She continues to compromise her morals and health by having sex and doing drugs, which she would have never even considered before dating Jason. 

Jordan: He has straightened out since high school, and we didn’t learn about this until Gripped Part 3: The Fallout. In Gripped 4, we learned more about his commitment to his family and his school. He took his education and his commitment to football seriously, and it shows how dedicated he is to all of them. 

Taylor: After the cliffhanger, we can hope that he made the right decision for his own personal health. We know that he is trying to help himself, but whether that makes him leave the drug ring altogether or makes him stay in and become a CI is the question for which we are still awaiting an answer.  

In Gripped Part 4, there was a lot of anticipation for the truth behind what happened between Jordan and Michelle. This was a minor plot line in the other books—only serving as the reason why Jordan and Marc no longer speak—but it was one of the main issues in Gripped Part 4 that I am looking forward to uncovering in Gripped Part 5.

About Emily

Emily Han is a 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. 

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

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

Teen Fiction Novel Exposes Consequences of Substance Abuse

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.