Teen Novel Educates Young Adults About Substance Abuse Through Compelling Characters

Written by Nasin Groshek, Plymouth, Massachusetts

As a young adult, the reality is that we all are exposed to drugs and alcohol in some way and often experience peer pressure to participate. Young adults should relate to Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula since it shows the social interactions between the characters in the story and how the different characters are affected by drugs, alcohol, and gossip. Many of the characters in the story are similar in many respects to my friends and classmates. Therefore, I recommend that all middle school and high school students read Gripped Part 1. This book addresses the realities of drug and alcohol abuse and the negative consequences to young adults of such drug and alcohol abuse through middle school, high school, and college. This book effectively educates young adults about drug and alcohol abuse through interesting characters and a compelling story.

I enjoyed the very realistic social interactions between the various characters in the story. The story goes into great depth describing these social interactions and the peer pressure that most young adults experience today. The story closely examines the relationships amongst young adults. The message of Gripped is that substance abuse can have severe consequences on the future of young adults and their relationships with family and friends. Through a compelling cast of characters and story, the book reinforces the devastating consequences of substance abuse. The book demonstrates how early participation in drugs and alcohol can potentially negatively change the future and relationships of young adults.

About Nasin Groshek

Nasin is a junior at Rising Tide Charter Public School, a college preparatory regional high school located in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  He enjoys travel, boating, photography, nature, volunteer work, and spending time with family and friends.  Nasin is a member of both the Community Action and Eco Clubs at Rising Tide.  He is also the founder of the Business Club at Rising Tide and looks forward to studying business in college.


Now being adapted for TV by Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman!

In high school, Taylor Dunkin broke more records than any other athlete to step foot in Montgomery, Massachusetts. As a sophomore in college, he was ranked by ESPN as one of the NFL’s top 100 prospects. However, his aspirations came to a jarring halt when a season-ending injury sent him spiraling into a dark world of pain, depression, and addiction.

One year later, Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential investigation headed by the Boston Police Department. He has entangled himself in a crime ring notorious for pushing drugs on local college campuses. Montgomery’s hometown hero has fallen hard, and he’s taking a lot of people down with him.

Luke Davids has become the middleman between Taylor and teens in Montgomery who want to buy drugs. Freshmen Cathy Kagelli, Chris Dunkin, and Jason Davids are just a few of the students at Montgomery Lake High who have fallen victim to the benzos and opiates supplied by Taylor and Luke.  

When Taylor’s youngest brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious amount of pills circulating around his high school, he sets off to not only reverse the damage Taylor has caused, but also save his lifelong role model from becoming a casualty of America’s deadly opioid epidemic.


“Invigorating, engaging and a must read. The characters in The Gripped Series diligently tackle the essence of forces that can limit greatness within.” – LaTonya Pinkard (Ms. P) from Netflix’s Emmy Winning Docuseries “Last Chance U”

“Gripped is perfect for Middle School and High School students, as well as their parents. It is an educational, yet entertaining narrative that highlights the growing problem of addiction in the U.S and just how easy it is for harmless fun to take a dark turn, regardless of who you are or where you come from.” – Elizabeth Harvey, Emerson College

“Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy A. Padula is a fast-paced and complex novel perfect for tweens, teens, and parents that is hard to put down. The many different story-lines are captivating and make you want to read the entire book in one sitting.” – Kate Nally, Boston College

“Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula is book that I could not be put down due to its unique character web and thorough storyline. It addresses the problem of addiction within teenagers from a variety of situations, such as affecting a potential professional football player named Taylor Dunkin. This book is a quick read that is perfect for middle school and high school students, while also being very applicable to adults wanting to know more about teenage drug abuse. This book introduces the consequences that come with taking drugs, and this could hopefully reduce the likelihood of students utilizing drugs throughout their education. I loved this book both because it was powerful and thorough, yet easy to follow.” – Kyle Banker, University of Miami

“Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula quite literally ‘grips’ the reader into the story, resulting in the inability to put the book down. It transports readers to the mysterious, yet intriguing realm of young adults, teaching valuable lessons in a journey through the pages.” – Olivia Syat, University of Illinois

“I recommend Gripped to young adults in middle school and high school because this book addresses topics such as relationships, drugs, and alcohol that most books recommended for this age group don’t go into enough detail about. With the opioid epidemic at an all time high, it is important that teens educate themselves on the dangers that drugs bring, and this book does a great job at providing an in depth look on the consequences of getting involved in dangerous, illegal substances. I would also recommend this book to parents of teens so they can get a better understanding of how to deal with issues regarding addiction, or simply just issues regarding their children’s relationships. By reading about this story of young adults who got caught up in drugs, parents and teens will be better informed and will hopefully be more comfortable to have open conversations about the topic.” – Sophia Coggeshall, University of Notre Dame

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.