The Thrilling Search for Answers in Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors

By Mackenzie Wells, Athens, GA

The fourth book in Stacy Padula’s Gripped series will be captivating to anyone who likes mysteries or a thrilling search for answers. I believe “Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors” will still appeal to the same audience as the first three books while also drawing new readers to the series with its promise of suspense. This book follows many of the storylines to the apex of their drama. It will keep readers engaged as they finally learn answers they have been waiting for, but the new questions raised will keep them coming back for the fifth book as well. 

As readers relate to the characters in each of these novels, it is so much easier to humanize them and see that it is not inconceivable for good people to end up in a bad position through a few bad decisions. None of the characters in this novel do anything out of malicious intent. They are all self-deceived, which leads them to make bad decisions and then try to rationalize them. In psychology, the way they are acting is known as cognitive dissonance, which means they are acting in a manner inconsistent with their beliefs. Someone having cognitive dissonance will either change their behavior, rationalize the behavior to their beliefs, or change their beliefs. It is easy to see how this theory is proven time and again by the actions—or inaction—of the characters in “Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors.” Seeing these tendencies in others helps us to understand the very same tendencies in ourselves. 

About Mackenzie

Mackenzie graduated in 2020 from the University of Georgia, majoring in English and public relations. She is a leader at the Wesley Foundation at UGA, the community outreach coordinator for UGA’s Undergraduate English Association, and a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Mackenzie has always had a passionate love for books and their ability to open doors to new worlds. She is excited to assist Stacy Padula in making a change in the young adult community.

Articles by Mackenzie

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.