By Jennifer O’Sullivan, Boston College
As a teenager, I love the casual writing style of Stacy Padula’s Gripped book series because it makes me feel connected to the characters and their stories. I can actually imagine myself right there with the characters, which makes it much more realistic and relatable. Additionally, I get the same effect with the inclusion of so much dialogue. Both aspects make me feel connected to the characters and the storyline.
After reading the first four books in the series, I want to share my take on the dynamic and complicated characters I have come to know…
Jordan: I have loved getting to know Jordan better as a character throughout this book, because I now have a lot of respect for him. Jordan seems like a kind guy who is very hardworking and talented. Despite this, I think that he allows people to underestimate and misinterpret him because he doesn’t want to act too arrogant. He has also been giving a lot of effort to help Taylor and his family, which I respect.
Taylor: I still respect Taylor as much as I did in the other books, but I think my understanding of him is different now because of how much of himself he is willing to sacrifice for others. I knew that Taylor was smart, kind, and talented, but I didn’t understand how selfless he was. In “Gripped Part 4,” Taylor showed a new side of himself when he was willing to allow his girlfriend to move on because he didn’t think he could be enough for her anymore. He was willing to stay in a crime ring and isolate himself to protect his family and friends.
Luke: I have come to respect Luke a lot more throughout “Gripped 4.” I used to view him as just “the party guy” who exposes people to drugs and makes it easy for people to access them. I have begun to realize, however, that he is just a people-pleaser who is doing his best to help others in the only way he knows how.
Cathy: Although my feelings about Cathy began to change a lot in “Gripped Part 3,” “Gripped Part 4” has solidified my new opinion of Cathy. Instead of seeing her as a hateful person who doesn’t care about anyone else, I have begun to see her as someone who is struggling so much with her own issues that she wants to push others away. As a result of this, it seems like she doesn’t care. In reality, she cares so deeply that it makes her inner conflicts even worse, and she struggles a lot.
Jason: I have always been confused about how I feel about Jason. He has shown a side of himself where he is ruthless and selfish, but there is also a side where he is kind and will do anything for anybody. I think that in “Gripped Part 4,” I got a much closer look into Jason and how kind and sensitive he actually is. He gets jealous and angry, which I previously misunderstood as him being mean, but this book has shown that he cares about everyone’s opinions of him and just wants everyone to be happy. Unfortunately, to keep others happy and away from his issues, he has to pretend like he doesn’t care about other people or other things, but he is actually being selfless in doing so.
Jennifer O’Sullivan, graduated from Dover Sherborn High School in 2020. She enjoys reading, playing the piano, spending time with friends and doing volunteer work. Jennifer led her school’s community service club and ran on her school’s cross country and track teams. She also loves to travel—especially to Ireland where she spends time with friends and family. Jennifer also runs and operates her own childcare company in the metro west of Massachusetts. Currently, she is attending Boston College to pursue her career goal of becoming a physician.