Duxbury High School Junior Recommends Y.A. Novel ‘Gripped’ to Teens – Here’s Why

Written by Maya Daly, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Stacy Padula’s young adult novel, Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told, is a realistic depiction of teens of all ages and their battles with peer pressure and substance abuse. Though I have not gotten into situations of the same magnitude as shown in Gripped, I relate to the theme of the struggle between sticking to morals versus succumbing to peer pressure to do things I normally would not do. I think that peer pressure is depicted well throughout the story, whether that is relating to the struggles of feeling encouraged to use alcohol or other substances or in a less extreme case. I also feel that on another level many of the characters show relatable traits that make it is easier to sympathize with and relate to them throughout the story. 

I recommend Gripped to young adults and teens. Gripped shows the realities of drug use, and the long term consequences that can come from even “trying” different substances. Seeing the stories of both the Dunkin family, as well as the many others intertwined with this story shows how easy it can be to become addicted to drugs and how addiction does not discriminate. Reading this at an age where people tend to be especially susceptible to falling victim to this makes teens more aware and educates them on the subject. 

I liked the way that the characters were portrayed throughout the story. I found it realistic and interesting to see the flaws and struggles of the seemingly “perfect” characters. I thought that it brought a new and genuine representation of how everyone has different struggles, and how easy it can be to hide these struggles from the rest of the world. This story really showed that everyone is flawed in their own way, and that no matter what morals or background someone comes from, they are not safe from facing various endeavors. 

Gripped demonstrates the realities of substance abuse and the dangers of getting involved with addictive substances. Overall this book highlights the fact that no one is perfect, no matter how they portray themselves. Even those who seem to have the most going for them are not safe from facing issues with drugs and alcohol or other issues socially in general such as peer pressure. In the next book, I am curious to learn about the path Cathy heads down. Throughout the book, many times it is hinted that Cathy has had an issue with drugs that developed between the period of seventh and ninth grade; however, not much more is shown. Some of the characters in the book seem to blame themselves, and I am interested to see how the story of this plays out, and who really is at fault. 

About Maya Daly

Maya is a junior at Duxbury High School, where she is a member of the Varsity Rowing Team. In school, she is a part of the yearbook club, Best Buddies club, and Habitat for Humanity. She enjoys studying English and history, and plans to major in one of those subjects in college. 

About Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told

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 season-ending injury sent him spiraling into a dark world of pain, depression, and addiction.

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 drugs on local college campuses. Montgomery’s hometown hero has fallen hard, and he’s taking a lot of people down with him.

Luke Davids has become the middleman between Taylor and teens in Montgomery who want to buy drugs. Freshmen Cathy Kagelli, Chris Dunkin, and Jason Davids are just a few of the students at Montgomery Lake High who have fallen victim to the benzos and opiates supplied by Taylor and Luke. 

When Taylor’s youngest brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious amount of pills circulating around his 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.