Relatable Characters Make Stacy Padula’s “Gripped” Book Series a Teen Favorite

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.

Written by Joseph Siracusa, Braintree, MA

In Stacy Padula’s best-selling Gripped book series, the character I relate most to is Marc Dunkin. Marc is a hard-working athlete and scholar who is trying his best to stay away from the substance abuse epidemic in Montgomery, while at the same time hanging around lots of people who struggle with substance abuse. However, I do like his brother Taylor, too. Although Taylor ultimately started an epidemic in his town, he looks to seek recovery and aims to fix everything he caused.

I find the storyline of Cathy Kagelli and Jason Davids most interesting. When Cathy and Jason first met, the bond between them was like no other. As they began to hang out more and more, this bond proved to be something special, and ultimately ended up in a really strong relationship. The great morals of Cathy and Jason seemed to be unbreakable until Jason started struggling with substance abuse. I would have never thought that Jason, who never even considered touching alcohol at Chris’ parties, would end up dealing with an addiction to pills. What hurt most was to see Cathy end up struggling with substance abuse because when she and Jason were clean, they both knew who they were, but now they both seem lost and depressed.

In regards to the other characters, I feel bad for Alyssa Kelly because she lost some of her closest friends due to a misunderstanding that caused the breakup between Chantal Kagelli and Jon Anderson. Jon frustrates me the most because if it weren’t for him losing his mind, the dynamic friend group consisting of Jon, Jason, Chris, Cathy, Chantal, Alyssa, and Lisa would have never been broken apart.

I am most curious to uncover how Taylor’s pending situation with the police will end up. At the end of the novel when the officer works with Marc to try to get Taylor to be an informant, the story ends on a cliffhanger. It is very nerve-wracking to end on this note because being an informant puts Taylor in a very dangerous situation. I could only imagine what it is like to be Marc in this situation. He is trying his best to stay away from drugs and work towards a football scholarship but does this out of love for his brother Taylor, trying to bring him away from the substance-filled life he is currently living.

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.