“Gripped 5: Taylor’s Story” Sends Imperative Message to Teen Readers

Written by Kyle Banker, University of Miami

As a junior in college, I believe that the topics covered in Stacy Padula’s Gripped 5: Taylor’s Story, including substance usage and purchasing, are becoming vastly more common across high schools and colleges in the United States. While many young adults feel it is simple to stay away from drugs, most are offered or asked to take a substance at some point in high school or college. Drug usage can rise either in a social environment to have more fun or to enhance one’s academic ability.  Furthermore, drug users can turn from a single experience into a daily dependency on a substance relatively quickly.

Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story features many substance abuse stories, including characters such as Taylor, Missy, and Laurelle. Specifically, experiences like those of Taylor can even result in participating in the drug-dealing side of substances, which leads to very tall consequences. Overall, all young adults should read Gripped Part 5 carefully and attempt to visualize how each character progressed into their current situation throughout the series. All characters in the book have been impacted by substances in some way, so observing and analyzing their choices can be a beneficial practice for your personal life outside of Montgomery.

I would recommend Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story by Stacy Padula to high school seniors and college underclassmen as this book revolves around the exposure of substances to young adults. Throughout the four-year gap between being a high school junior and a college sophomore, I believe that most teenagers will be introduced or exposed to drugs. Whether it is at a party, dorm room, or when walking around a city, there is little an individual can do to escape the exposure or substances, regardless of if they are tempted to pursue them or not. Based upon peer experiences and substance education, teenagers are made well-aware of the consequences that drugs have on an individual, no matter who they were before they began taking pills. Without these students understanding the impact of countless types of substances, they could be influenced in the wrong direction to try for fun and eventually become at risk of addiction. Nevertheless, Gripped Part 5 effectively shows the drawbacks of substances and how someone can get negatively tied up if they make one poor decision.

I believe that the main message that Gripped 5 displays to its readers is to treat exposures to drugs cautiously. These instances can happen in your personal life or your friend group, and it is crucial to try to avoid making tough decisions about substances. The reason for this is because once you start taking pills, it becomes difficult to get out if they are addictive substances. As a result, Gripped 5 makes its readers question whenever they are offered pills or see a friend taking drugs to make the best decision about how to handle the situation. By learning from characters in the novel like Taylor, readers will see how quickly and negatively substances can affect one’s present and future self.

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.


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.