UGA Grad Recommends Thrilling Crime Novel to Young Adults

By Mackenzie Wells, Athens, GA

Anyone who likes true crime or detective novels will enjoy the mysterious intrigue of Taylor’s Story (Gripped 5) by Stacy Padula. I would recommend this book to many young adults who like thrilling stories that are more than just action packed. This book is still perfect for anyone who enjoys reading about relationships and even self-discovery. I felt that one of the most relevant topics in this book was the way different characters are dealing with changes in their lives. Any teenagers who have navigated changing relationships will relate to the seniors in this book who are learning their place in the world and their meaning to each other. There are also a lot of examples of characters dealing with peer pressure and people pleasing. I think this is very relevant for teenagers in today’s world.

Some key messages in Taylor’s Story that stood out to me are…

  • Every circumstance can be used by God for your good, but even so, there are real repercussions from the decisions that you make.
  • Real friends will appreciate you for who you are, not what you can do for them.
  • Making assumptions about people can lead to hurt on both ends. It is much more efficient to have open and honest communication about what is going on and what you are feeling.

I love the excitement and mystery that comes with the police investigation. I love the added level of suspense with an undercover agent. I think Taylor is my favorite character right now. I relate to how he can get so lost in his head, even when very real and important things are happening around him. I also have really liked reading about Jimmy, Donny, and Rob. I can’t wait to see how the investigation unfolds and how everyone makes it out of such a dangerous situation safely. I feel like there are still secrets to be uncovered in the organized crime ring and with the FBI’s investigation. It is also interesting to see other characters begin to realize exactly what is going on around them. I think it will be interesting to see how Luke shares the news with his friends.  

I’ll be honest, as much as I want to see Taylor come through everything safely, his precarious position is extremely exciting as a reader. I hope that he is able to protect his family and himself. I completely believe that he has learned his lesson and changed as a person since the beginning of the series. I hope that he is able to escape his life of crime without any strings attached – even if he does have a few more close calls.  

Regarding some of the other main characters, I feel like Cathy and Chantal have just wasted so much time and energy on their misunderstandings. They both have the potential to be powerful characters and harbingers of change – I just hate that so much of their time has been wasted. They both have very powerful testimonies now, and I hope to see them change other people’s lives for the better. I’m still not sure what I would like to see happen with Cathy and Jason. I feel like they are going to get back together in the long run, but I also think that it is good they are taking time to mature and grow apart from each other. I think it would be really great to see them become friends again first before progressing to a newly romantic relationship. I feel bad for Luke, but I also think that if he will just stand up for himself, he has every opportunity of being treated well. I don’t necessarily think that Missy is bad for him, but he should absolutely know if she likes him or his connections. If he would just cut out his party boy exterior, I believe they could still be social and have fun without the illusion of what drugs could give them.

Now being adapted for TV!

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 Mackenzie

Mackenzie graduated in 2020 from the University of Georgia, majoring in English and public relations. She is a leader at the Wesley Foundation at UGA, the community outreach coordinator for UGA’s Undergraduate English Association, and a member of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Mackenzie has always had a passionate love for books and their ability to open doors to new worlds.

Articles by Mackenzie

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.