Reflecting on Taylor’s Story: The Gripped Characters

Written by Kyle Banker, University of Miami

After reading the latest novel in Stacy Padula’s Gripped series, Kyle Banker was asked to share his opinion on some of the main characters.


Taylor has dug himself into a deep hole within Bilotti’s drug dealing business. However, he is trying to get out of the gang and stay away from drugs altogether. As a result, my opinion of Taylor has been positively affected by Gripped 5 due to his mission to keep his family and friends safe. While he tries to avoid Bilotti’s men for his own sake, Taylor knows that his bad decisions have impacted countless people in Montgomery. So, I admire his unselfishness to focus on the bigger picture of keeping his family safe and out of the situation while also avoiding selling drugs rather than cashing out to pay for his tuition.


I think Jordan has continued to be a role model for the Dunkin family, both academically and socially. He has stayed away from drugs, excelled in his classes at Notre Dame, and remains a top player in their football team. Even though Marc and Jordan do not get along very often, I consider Jordan to be one of the nicest characters in the series. After reading Gripped 5, I would not say that my opinion on Jordan was significantly altered. 


I believe that Marc had a much larger role in Gripped 5 compared to other novels in the series. Within the Dunkin family, he seemed to be Taylor’s primary line of communication. So, the reader is mostly in the perspective of Marc rather than Jordan or their parents in Gripped 5. Throughout the book, the reader is shown Marc’s compassion and care for Taylor’s situation. While I do not have strong opinions on Marc, I believe that Gripped 5 showed more of his personality than ever before.


Like Marc, I do not have many strong opinions on Missy. She seems to be similar to Cathy earlier in the series, where she is constantly partying and taking drugs. While Missy seems to be very kind towards Luke and Taylor, she could get in trouble with substances in the future. In the present, I appreciate her vibrancy, but I hope that Missy is not negatively impacted in the future.


Laurelle is a character that I do not feel strongly connected with, so I do not have many opinions on her personality. But, she seems to be a fun and lively character who closely connects with Pat. She also seems to be a huge partier and takes several substances. While I do not know much about her as a character yet, I hope that she will not go down a negative path with drugs in her life. 


I think Luke has almost completely isolated himself from drugs, which shows his tremendous character development. Considering his past life as a drug supplier earlier in the series, I believe Luke has taken a positive route in his life and is more cautious and communicative with his emotions. Although he questions his insecurities while dating Missy, I believe that Luke will be able to share his thoughts with her to ensure his mental health is positive. Overall, I like Luke as a character, and I hope that his healthy character development continues to grow.

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.