College Junior Shares Thoughts on Stacy Padula’s “Gripped” Characters

Written by Kyle Banker, University of Miami

After reading Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors by Stacy Padula, Kyle Banker was asked, How has your opinion of the Gripped series’ main characters evolved overtime?


I think Luke has developed stronger positive intentions with his life after reflecting on his past as a drug supplier. I think that at the conclusion of Gripped Part 4, Luke seems more down-to-earth and cautious with his life choices, especially with his relationship with Missy. Time will tell whether Luke will actually proceed with his good thinking and actions, but for now, I can see upside in his character development in the future. 


I think Jordan is the best set up out of the group, as he is continuing to be a role model for the Dunkin family. He has stayed away from drugs, done good in school at Notre Dame, and remains a top player in their football team. Even though he has troubles with his brother Marc, I consider Jordan to be the nicest and most real character in the novel, and I hope his personality and choices remain constant throughout the series, despite the negative influences of Taylor and others in Montgomery.


Taylor has clearly dug himself into a deep hole within the drug dealing business. However, it is clear that he is trying to escape this nightmare, but is struggling to do so. Taylor is now more aware of his impact on others, such as Julie and his brothers, and I believe that he can effectively turn around his life if he makes the right choices. Obviously, this will take a great amount of time, but if he is truly able to get out of dealing drugs, Taylor will be able to take steps to overcome his addiction.


I don’t really know how to feel about Jason. He has good intentions in terms of not wanting to hurt others, but he very easily is influenced to drink and continue taking substances. Even though Cathy tried to get him off substances such as Adderall, it seemed impossible for him to overcome his issues. As a result, Jason and Cathy broke up, and it is now solely in his hands to turn around his life. 


I think Cathy has good and religious morals, but she often finds herself not following them at parties and other scenarios. She mostly follows the influences of other characters, such as Jason and Lisa, which causes her to do things that she regrets in the future. Finally separating from Jason seems beneficial for Cathy, but I am not sure whether she will lose her love for Jason. But, Marc should be more of a good influence for her, so in the next novel, we can see whether Cathy sticks stronger to her morals.

After spending her first month of high school grounded, Cathy Kagelli is finally allowed to socialize and uncover what her boyfriend, Jason Davids, has been up to without her. When Cathy realizes Jason has been experimenting with a variety of drugs, she devises a plan to save him from himself… but she just may lose herself in the process.

Meanwhile Taylor Dunkin finds himself playing a game with even higher stakes because his life, his reputation, and the safety of everyone he loves are all on the line. Taylor’s two younger brothers, Jordan and Marc, have been at odds for years, but they are brought together to decipher the mysterious clues Taylor is leaving regarding his whereabouts. As secrets are revealed, the Dunkin boys’ relationships will be changed forever. In Taylor’s weakest moment, he made a deal with the devil, and now there is a reckoning. But who will pay the price?


Kyle is a junior at University of Miami. He graduated in 2019 from Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. He has been an intern for us since 2018. His favorite subjects include Biology, English, and Entrepreneurship. Some of his hobbies are playing soccer and hockey, volunteering, and being with friends and family. Kyle is studying Biological Sciences, while also pursuing his passions for writing and business.

Other Articles by Kyle:

Fiction Book Helps Teens Prepare for High School

Teen Novel about Addiction Provides Hope for Redemption and Recovery

Teen Novel Educates Kids About the Perils of Substance Abuse

Why Teens Want to Read The Right Person

A Must-Read Novel For All High School Students

Teen Book Series Educates Readers about Drug Abuse in a New Way

Why You Should Read the #1 New Release “Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told”

Kyle Banker on The “Gripped” Characters

A Teen’s Review of Gripped Part 1

Looking Ahead to Gripped Part 2 with Kyle Banker

What Should Readers Expect from Gripped Part 2 (To Be Released Later This Year)

May’s Q&A with Kyle Banker of Beaver Country Day School

Kyle Banker Reviews “The Right Person” by Stacy A. Padula – A Young Adult Novel

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.