Written by Kate Peterson, Hingham, MA
I recommend Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula to middle school and high school students. They are the perfect age for this book because it relates so well to teenagers’ everyday lives. The characters are in their age group and going through tricky experiences that many middle/high schoolers must navigate. Gripped also connects to them by warning how quickly your life can change from being a “football star” to a struggling drug addict. It cautions readers about how the things they are experiencing now can escalate quickly and to stop before it is too late (like it was for many of the characters in the book). Gripped also demonstrates the complexity of friendship. Cathy goes from a “loner” to joining a group of friends where she finally feels like she belongs. She soon experiences the drama that comes along with a friend group but was still able to make meaningful connections from it.
As a senior in high school, I personally relate to this story a lot because of both the friend drama with the girls fighting over boys, as well as that I have a friend who “partied” a lot starting in 8th grade. He developed an addiction to weed and began testing out other drugs, like many characters in this book. It shows how quickly life can change during those important transition years.
Gripped sends a message of how quickly life can change from what seems to be a “little slip up” to an addiction. It also demonstrates the influence older siblings/cousins can have. It reminds me to always put my best foot forward for my little cousins who look up to me a lot because I would not want to corrupt them the same way Taylor and Jordan corrupt Chris in the story. Your actions have consequences, and Gripped by Stacy Padula drives that point home.
In high school, Taylor Dunkin broke more records than any other athlete to step foot in Montgomery, Massachusetts. As a sophomore in college, he was ranked by ESPN as one of the NFL’s top 100 prospects. However, his aspirations came to a jarring halt when a knee injury and two surgeries left him sidelined.
One year later, Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential investigation headed by the Boston Police Department. He has entangled himself in a crime ring notorious for pushing opiates, cocaine, and benzodiazepines on local college campuses.
When Taylor’s younger brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious drug supply circulating around Montgomery Lake High School, he sets off to not only reverse the damage Taylor has caused, but also save his lifelong role model from becoming a casualty of America’s deadly opioid epidemic.
About Kate Peterson
Kate Peterson is a senior at Notre Dame Academy. She is the captain of her schools varsity ski team and a member of the tennis team. She is in NDA’s National Honor Society and is involved in her school’s Growing Greener, Spanish, and Model UN clubs. Kate traveled to the Dominican republic this past summer to build houses for a community in need. With a great passion for psychology and science, she plans to major in neuroscience or health science in college.