Providence College Freshman Joanna Dakoyannis Discusses “Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors”

Joanna Dakoyannis

By Joanna Dakoyannis—Providence College

Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors by Stacy A. Padula delves into the lives of some of the older, college-aged characters in the series. Although the previous books have mentioned them, there is more insight on Taylor, Jordan, Michelle, Missy, and some of their other friends. The focus on different characters keeps the book interesting.

The flashbacks also keep the story interesting and help tell the backstory behind the characters’ behaviors and relationships. The end of the book brings us to present day and leaves us wanting to know what happens next to many of the main characters, especially Taylor.

My thoughts on the characters…

Jordan: In my eyes, Jordan has come a long way since high school. I have a lot of respect for him. He has been able to learn from his mistakes and clean up his act to become a successful college athlete at Notre Dame.

Taylor: Taylor seems to be a very emotional character who puts his heart into everything he does. However, this can be a bad thing because he uses drugs as a coping mechanism for his sadness. He was trying to turn his life back around by working with the police to help catch the drug dealers, but now he is missing and left a sketchy trace behind him, so I am not sure what to think about him now.

Luke: Luke is a bad influence on his fellow teens. He has always been known as the one to supply his friends with drugs. In “Gripped Part 4,” it is revealed that he doesn’t take the drugs himself and that he doesn’t make money from dealing the drugs. He calls himself a “middle man,” but it really does not redeem him.

Jason: Jason needs to focus on himself. This includes getting himself drug-free. It appears that he cares about Cathy, but he is bad for her.

Cathy: Cathy needs to also work on getting herself clean of any drugs. Although she also has feelings for Jason, they are a dangerous combination. They continue to feed off of each other and justify their drug abuse and other risky behavior.

In Gripped 5, I am dying to find out what has happened to Taylor and why his Jeep is parked outside Brigham Pizza. Did he really never get to the airport? Why was his backpack still in the car? What does Mr. Dunkin know? I am also very curious to see if Cathy and Jason get back together after Marc leaves for college. 

About Joanna

Joanna Dakoyannis graduated in 2020 from Dover-Sherborn High School in Dover, Massachusetts. She enjoys creative writing, traveling, going to the gym, running track for her high school team and loves cheering on the team at school sporting events. She currently a freshman at Providence College and hopes to eventually attend dental school.

Articles by Joanna

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.