UNH Junior Recommends “Taylor’s Story” to Teen Readers

By Jenna Finnerty, University of New Hampshire

As a junior in college, I would like to recommend Gripped 5: Taylor’s Story by Stacy Padula to teens who may be susceptible to drug use. Most teens do not realize the consequences of getting into drugs, and this book is a perfect example of how drugs can wrap you in and not let you out. Drugs can also ruin friendships and relationships, and Gripped 5 also exemplifies that. 

Gripped 5 has many important messages for teenagers to learn. The book shows how teens can get involved in bad situations, and how it can change their life. In the end, it shows how coming to faith can help the characters return to a normal life. It teaches readers how difficult it is to get out of the world of drugs by telling Taylor’s story and how much he is struggling to stay safe. Another message Gripped 5 sends is how out of touch drugs can take you out of touch with reality. This is present across many of the characters such as Cathy and Missy. 

I enjoyed reading this book because it kept me on edge and I wanted to keep reading it. I also liked that although Gripped 5 told many different stories throughout, they all tied together in the end. I also enjoyed the brief look back into Taylor’s past when he was dating Missy’s older sister Caroline. I think it has  been interesting to see how Taylor has come to the realization that he puts everyone he knows at risk by being involved in drugs. When Taylor reconnected with Missy, he realized the innocent people he once knew have reached the  drugs Taylor has distributed. Taylor explained how he has seen Missy change. He knew her as an innocent young girl, and now she is a big party girl, and is into drugs. I hope to see her come to the realization that she is heading down the wrong path and she changes her act.

I have enjoyed seeing Jordan turn into a faithful, smart young man. I hope to see his relationship grow with Marc once Marc realizes Jordan has matured greatly since high school. I have also enjoyed seeing Marc grow into a smart young man, but hope to see him come around to Jordan. Marc has been smart like Taylor was in high school, and he realizes the trouble Taylor has gotten himself into since then. I think Marc will stay this way, and will be a good influence on everyone around him.

Look ahead to Gripped Part 6, I am interested to see what happens to Taylor and where Jimmy is bringing him. I am also interested to see what Luke finds out in Boston and how it translates to Taylor’s family in Montgomery. I hope Taylor is safe with Jimmy and his brother, and is able to get out of organized crime. I also hope this gives him another shot at football and he is able to live his dream. I look forward to seeing Cathy and Chantal’s relationship flourish. They had missed out on a lot of time together and I hope to see them become friends again. I hope Cathy and Jason are able to talk things out and become friends again. I will be curious to see if they remain friends and Cathy stays with Marc, or if Cathy and Jason begin to date again. I want Luke to be able to talk to Missy and can become more of himself again. With Taylor not dealing drugs again, Luke’s supply of drugs will be cut off, and he will be able to tell if Missy is using him or not.

Taylor Dunkin is missing.
The last message Jordan Dunkin receives from Taylor leads him to Taylor’s abandoned Jeep. Each of Taylor’s family members holds a piece of the puzzle, and as the Dunkins begin putting the details together, they are awakened to the possibility they may never see Taylor again.

No one can find Missy Kent.
Missy’s boyfriend Luke Davids last saw her dancing with their friends at a nightclub, but she hasn’t responded to anyone’s texts or calls for hours.

Everything is connected.
Taylor and Missy’s friends are dangerously close to learning the truth, but their ignorance might be the only thing keeping them safe. Every clue is leading them closer to peril.

The fifth book in the Gripped series moves through details at a thrilling pace. Secrets are revealed and lives are at stake. Taylor, Missy, their friends, and their families must figure out who they can trust before it’s too late.

About Jenna Finnerty

Jenna Finnerty graduated in 2019 from Norwell High School in Norwell, Massachusetts. She is majoring in science at the University of New Hampshire. Jenna has accrued years of experience as a cheerleader and gymnast. She also has a passion for traveling and looks forward to studying abroad in college.

Articles by Jenna:

New Teen Novel Helps Kids Make Smart Decisions in the Face of Peer Pressure

Q&A on MLH #1 with Jenna Finnerty

The Right Person by Stacy Padula Accurately Depicts High School Social Challenges

Hope Found in Darkness: A Young Adult Book Review by Jenna Finnerty

Q&A with Jenna Finnerty on Young Adult Novel “When Darkness Tries to Hide”

Jenna Finnerty’s Take on New Y.A. Novel “Gripped” by Stacy Padula

May’s Q&A with Jenna Finnerty of Norwell High School

Jenna Finnerty Reviews Gripped Part 2: Blindsided

A College Freshman’s Take on Gripped Part 2: Blindsided by Stacy Padula

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.