Gripped 4: The Drama, Mystery, & Uncertainty Kept Me Captivated from Cover to Cover

Isabelle Semas

By Isabelle Semas, Massachusetts

The drama and mystery of “Gripped Part 4: Smoke & Mirrors” by Stacy A. Padula was engaging. The uncertainty of Taylor Dunkin’s plot mixed with the tension of Jason Davids’ and Cathy Kagelli’s storyline had me captivated from cover to cover.  I also enjoyed how this book delved more into the characters of Michelle Taylor and Jordan Dunkin.

Flashbacks used throughout the series give insight into the past. Different points of view allow readers to look into the characters’ individual motives and personalities. I enjoyed how these things make the plot and characters more realistic. 

Some on the characters…

Luke: Throughout most of the Gripped series, I thought of Luke as a heartless, selfish partier. “Gripped Part 4” changed my opinion of him, though. He is not as carefree as he lets on, and he is afraid of being used for his drug connection and money.

Jordan:  As “Gripped Part 4” went on, I began to realize that Jordan is not the villain Marc thinks he is. Jordan is much more trustworthy and caring than I previously thought. He wants to help Taylor and make amends with Marc. He has also kept Michelle’s secret at the expense of his reputation.

Taylor: Taylor Dunkin is broken and lost. He is just trying to do the right thing and escape his old life. Contrary to what I previously thought, he is loving and cares about his family.

Jason: Jason frustrated me in this book. He was trying to help Cathy by giving her medication, but it only harmed her in the end. Drugs change Jason’s personality and make him more selfish.

Cathy: Cathy is lost and willing to try anything to make herself happy. This causes her to make the bad decisions that she does. I still like the character of Cathy, and I hope she makes better decisions in future Gripped books.

Looking Ahead

While there are many things I look forward to reading about in “Gripped Part 5,” a few stand out to me. First, I want to know where Taylor is and how his story ends. I am also curious to learn what really happened to Michelle on that fateful night. Lastly, I hope to see Jordan and Marc make up before the series concludes!

About Isabelle

Isabelle Semas is in her senior year of high school, and has been homeschooled most of her life.  She looks forward to graduating next 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.

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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.