Isabelle Semas on the “Gripped 5” Characters

Isabelle Semas

By Isabelle Semas, South Shore, Massachusetts

After reading Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story by Stacy Padula, teen best-selling author Isabelle Semas was asked to share how her opinion of the main characters has changed throughout the story.


At first, I thought Taylor was an evil, heartless person.  As the series has gone on, I recognize Taylor is just a broken college kid whose dreams were crushed.  As more of his story is uncovered, the more pitiable he becomes.


Earlier in the Gripped series, Jordan was made out by Marc to be a villain.  But as Jordan’s point of view begins to reveal his own side of the story, we learn none of Marc’s accusations are true.  Jordan is free-spirited, deep-thinking, and incredibly loyal.


In earlier books, I liked the character of Marc, and admired how much more responsible he was than his peers.  In Gripped 5 however, his character frustrated me.  His grudge against Jordan blinds him to reality and rationality.


My opinion on Missy has not changed much over the Gripped novels.  I find her character irresponsible and selfish.  She only wants to have fun, and rarely considers Luke’s feelings.


I thought Laurelle was just like her friend Missy, but I realize she is much more practical than her fun-loving friends.  She is smart, and more responsible than Missy.  However, I find the way she handles her undefined relationship with Pat foolish.


Earlier in the series, I saw Luke as irresponsible.  But in this book, I realize much of his motivation for partying and distributing drugs is to appease his girlfriend.  He is so afraid Missy will break up with him that he will do whatever it takes to keep her, even if that goes against what he knows is right.


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 Isabelle

Isabelle Semas is a 2021 homeschool graduate and best-selling author. She was inspired by her love of dystopian novels and her Christian faith to write her first book, The Crash, at the age of fifteen. The Crash was published by Briley & Baxter Publications in 2021. In Isabelle’s spare time, she sings in a christian band named NHB with her friends, is very involved in her church’s children’s ministry, and enjoys art.

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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.