Medfield High School Class Leader Recommends ‘Gripped’ to Teens


Jack is a senior at Medfield High School where he is the founder and president of the school’s Investment Club. He has a passion for business and finance, engaging his interests in other business-related clubs such as DECA. Jack is a member of the Varsity Lacrosse and Hockey teams and works as a vendor at Fenway Park throughout the summer. Additionally, he works with the Medfield Coalition for Suicide Prevention to help raise awareness for mental health in both his school and town. Jack’s favorite subjects include English, mathematics, and Mandarin, and he is also the president of MHS’s Mandarin Club. 

Throughout my time in high school, I have been surrounded by substances and drug abuse from my peers. While this may be on a far smaller scale compared to what takes place in the Gripped book series by Stacy A. Padula, I commonly hear horror stories about classmates abusing “hard” substances, and it is clear that they are struggling in some form. I try my best to have a positive influence on those that surround me, but while reading Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told, I have realized that oftentimes one’s personal conflicts have a greater impact than the external. While protagonist Taylor Dunkin’s addiction was technically started by a knee injury, the true cause for the consistent abuse was the self-doubt, shame, and general sadness felt after missing out on a potential football career. 

Gripped has a powerful message that evokes emotion in the reader. While reading through this, I could not stop thinking about friends and family that have struggled with substance abuse. As a young adult with a similar background as several characters in the novel, I see similarities between my peers and figures like Taylor, Luke, and Jason. The theme of abuse and the harm drugs cause to those that use and take them is overly prevalent, and I tend to reflect on the effects drugs have had on my peers. 

While reading the novel, I most liked the plot of the story, the jumping timeline, and the messages that Gripped expresses to the young-adult audience. From the characters to the literal plot, the messaging conveyed in Gripped portrays an accurate representation of a suburban high school. I continue to notice similarities between my town and Mongomery as I hear new things, which shows how applicable the book is to young adult readers like myself. Also, the timeline of the story allows the read to stay interested within the intricate plot. Reading hundreds of pages of a novel can become tiresome at times, but having a moving plot allows the reader to stay focused and connect on a number of levels. Finally, the metaphorical themes hidden throughout the novel allow the reader to dig deeper into the story as a whole, making it all the more meaningful. 

Seeing children fall victim to substances is a devastating sight, but the information present in Gripped is relevant and useful when reaching out to young athletes. People of all ages, but more specifically high school students, can learn from the themes presented in Gripped.


Now being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman!

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.

“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’

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.