Megan Farinacci On ‘Gripped Part 2: Blindsided’

Written by Megan Farinacci, Medfield, MA

Gripped Part 2: Blindsided by Stacy Padula puts drug abuse into the perspective of young adults, even reaching a middle school aged audience.

The book focuses heavily on the younger characters who will soon be attending high school. Although the topics covered in this book are not what many want to talk about, it is important that they are not ignored. This book shows the ups and downs of teenage culture, and I believe that it is important for young adults to be exposed to these issues. In the Griped Part 2, we see how the lives of these middle schoolers change drastically with one bad decision. Peer pressure is heavily demonstrated in this novel. The readers can clearly see how just one person can have a greater impact on others around them. 

In the beginning of the series, protagonist Taylor Dunkin made decisions that were detrimental to his family life, social life, and football career. His drug abuse problems led him down the wrong path and affected so many people in his life. At the end of Gripped Part 2, Taylor begins to care about his future and turning his life around. He has cut drugs out of his life and is focusing on mending the relationships he destroyed in the beginning of the series. 

Throughout the series, Taylor’s younger cousin Chris has always been the life of the party and would never turn down an opportunity to have fun. In Gripped Part 2, Chris finds himself going down the wrong path and fears that he has dragged some of his closest friends with him. Chris dabbling in drugs soon turns into a near death experience resulting in a hospital trip. Towards the end of the book Chris is trying his hardest to change for the better. He is surrounding himself with people who will keep him in line and he truly cares about those around him. 

Nevertheless, I feel that Chris and Lisa Ankerman’s relationship is not a healthy one. Chris is battling a substance abuse problem and Lisa is challenged with mental health issues after the loss of her father. When Chris is at his most vulnerable point, he pushes Lisa away. Chris is afraid he will emotionally break Lisa even more and fears that staying with her would only lead to more issues. Clearly their relationship is not healthy for either side, and I think it is best that they split. 

My two favorite characters in the series are Chris and his cousin Marc. Since the beginning of the series Marc shows how much he cares about fixing the problems caused by his best friend Luke and older brother Taylor. Similarly, my other favorite character is Chris because of how much he cares for the people around him. Chris is actively trying to steer away from the bad influences in his life while also distancing himself from friends he may have influenced in a negative way.

Fourteen-year-old Chris Dunkin is known for being the life of the party and everyone’s favorite friend. Despite his amicable nature, he carries around deep-seated pain from his childhood that he frequently numbs with alcohol and drugs. After hosting a party, Chris awakes with a strange vibe running through his body and no recollection of the previous night. When he learns the horrifying truth of what his night entailed, the trajectory of his life is changed forever.


“Invigorating, engaging and a must read. The characters in The Gripped Series diligently tackle the essence of forces that can limit greatness within.” – LaTonya Pinkard of Netflix’s Emmy-winning series Last Chance U

“One of the main benefits of reading Gripped Part 2: Blindsided, as well as the entire Gripped series, is that it not only shows the horrors of substance abuse, but also reveals the buildup to it. Blindsided depicts not just the worst days, but the first days. Through the story, teens are able to learn about decisions and behaviors that can lead to drug abuse. Throughout the story, the social lives of the different characters intertwine with each other, creating drama, conflict, and new friendships, which makes Blindsided a fascinating read.” – Michael Farinacci, University of Notre Dame

About Megan Farinacci

Megan is a junior at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. She is a member of the Varsity Cross Country and Varsity Lacrosse teams at NCDS. She also plays club lacrosse for Mass Elite. She is involved in her school’s health science, yearbook, and running clubs. She has a passion for art and is currently studying 2D design. Megan also enjoys traveling. Over the summer, she traveled to Guatemala with School the World where she helped build a school for a community in need. Her favorite subjects are science and English. She plans to study science or nursing in college. 

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.