Written by Kyle Banker, University of Miami
Gripped Part 4: Smoke & Mirrors by Stacy Padula is a novel that showcases the evident consequences of substance to young adults in Montgomery. Part 4 of the Gripped series picks up the storylines effectively from the previous novel, including the situations of Taylor and Cathy. In this novel, Taylor is given the spotlight, as he attempts to bring his life back together by escaping the drug dealing business. However, through his high effort, he is struggling to get away from his current life.
Meanwhile, Cathy is seen enduring many problems with Jason, mostly to do with his active use of substances. Cathy attempts to help Jason overcome his addiction and truly become himself again, despite the many difficulties of their surrounding influences. By the end of the novel, all of these characters are seen in a very different position, good or bad, which sets up for an exciting fifth part of the series.
This novel is an engaging and meaningful read, ideal for high school freshmen, while also being very applicable to adults wanting to know more about teenage drug abuse. Gripped Part 4 displays the many drawbacks of taking drugs, including losing friends, girlfriends, and your thoughts on your own life. As a result, Padula effectively shows the extreme efforts needed to begin overcoming an addiction in order to begin a new life; this is shown to be very hard to complete. This would hopefully influence all young adults to avoid using drugs in order to prevent going through this troublesome process, and to avoid losing the trust and relationships with loved ones and friends.
In all, I rate this book a 5/5 and would recommend reading it. I loved this book because although there were two main storylines occurring simultaneously, it was relatively easy to follow each character’s growth and progression.
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?
ABOUT KYLE BANKER
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.
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