There’s Much to Learn from Chris Dunkin’s Character Arc in “Gripped” by Stacy Padula

Written by Maya Daly, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Gripped Part 3: The Fallout by Stacy Padula gives important insight into the minds of many teens during their high school years. While, oftentimes, the characters are not making the best decisions, it shows that usually these decisions are made worse due to outside factors going on in the teens’ lives. Sometimes I think it is easy to look at a situation and not understand it, but Gripped puts irresponsible actions into perspective when seeing the outside influences that are impacting the kids. For adults especially, this is an educational look into teen life. 

One thing I particularly liked about the approach of Gripped Part 3 was the way that it showed the impacts drugs can begin to have on school when used irresponsibly. After attending a party on the night before the first day of school, the main group of teens face the consequences of their actions and do not get a good start to the first day of high school. This book also shows how drug use can impact relationships, tearing people apart want to avoid being negatively impacted by drugs. Gripped Part 3 shines an important light on the use of drugs and the very real consequences that come with them, going into every avenue from relationships to school. 

In this book, I found Chris Dunkin’s storyline to be the most interesting, as I think that the contrast between his current self in book 3 and who he was in book 1 is very interesting and unexpected. In book 1, Chris is seemingly the “leader” and “bad influence” on the rest of the group, hosting all of the parties and encouraging everyone else to drink and engage in other drugs. Now, he is very mature in the sense of knowing what is best for himself and trying to maintain his sobriety. Seeing the contrast between his personality then and now and how he has been changing has been very interesting to me while reading this book, as well as seeing how some of his friends have now almost switched roles with him. 

Seeing Chris mature throughout the series has been one of the best character development plots thus far. Chris serves to show that even when someone may seem to be “too deep” into drugs or reckless, it is never too late to turn things around. Him taking his sobriety into his own hands and distancing himself from those who negatively influenced him, like Jason, shows how much he has grown as a person and how he has matured greatly. He shows readers that drug dependency can be beaten and that no one is ever “too far gone” to take the journey of sobriety. 

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Meanwhile, Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost-one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger. Taylor is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

About Maya Daly

Maya is a junior at Duxbury High School, where she is a member of the Varsity Rowing Team. In school, she is a part of the yearbook club, Best Buddies club, and Habitat for Humanity. She enjoys studying English and history, and plans to major in one of those subjects in college. 

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.