Q&A with Timmy Weiss on “Gripped Part1: The Truth We Never Told”

Timmy Weiss is a senior at St. Sebastian’s high school.  He is a varsity tennis and varsity soccer player, as well as a part of MPA (men with positive attitudes), the newspaper named The Walrus, and the peer mentoring club. He enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, volunteering, and going to sports games. Soon he hopes to study communications in college. 

After reading Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy A. Padula, he was interviewed about the characters and storyline.

Who would you recommend Gripped Part 1 to and why?

I would recommend Gripped Part 1 to a younger audience such as middle schoolers because it is a very straightforward book both in the plot and in its themes. I think high schoolers and adults should still read this book because it has a great plot and great lessons, but since all the themes are so straightforward it leaves less room for a reader to interpret, which is an important skill for older readers to develop.  A middle school audience therefore is perfect since they have not developed the skills to interpret like older readers, yet can learn the gravity of drug use as they go into high school.

How do you as a young adult relate to the story? 

The way I related to the story was always being the innocent one who would never want to get involved in drug abuse. I would never be ashamed or afraid to stand up for myself against drugs and other stuff, which makes me feel like Chantal in this book, since she always avoids these things. I relate deeply though because, coming from a pretty rich, preppy, private school, it’s no secret that drugs are used by more kids than would be expected.  Although I never associate with these kids it is incredibly easy for me to get involved if I wanted to or was pushed to.

What did you like best about the story? 

I really enjoyed the way the italics described exactly what the characters were thinking in their heads.  I think many people may disagree with me and want that part to be more open for interpretation from the reader, but to me it deeply helped the plot of the story and kept me more intrigued.  After reading Ernest Hemingway, Thoreau, and Emerson this year it was a relief I was not forced to interpret every quote of dialogue I read.  These are such small details, yet I think they played a massive role in character development and giving the reader a closer connection to each character.

What message does this book send to readers? 

The message is that rich kids who have their life in terrific shape can easily be caught in drug abuse.  It says it multiple times in the book how Taylor was looked up to by everyone in Montgomery.  Yet this same kid was in a deep drug addiction, which had basically ruined his life.  The addition of the middle schoolers in this book also shows how even young kids can be caught up in this stuff if they are around the wrong crowd or if they get the impression of drugs making them feel “cool.”

There are a few different storylines running through Gripped Part 1 because it is setting up the rest of the series. What storyline do you find the most interesting and why?

The storyline I found the most interesting was the storyline between Jason and Cathy.  The suspense of how it was set up since we knew they broke up a couple years later in the beginning of the book yet we were put back in a time when they didn’t even know each other.  Then the fact that Jason was willing to totally change himself and the way he acted to girls just for Cathy was very cool.  I also really enjoyed the mind games that they played between each other.  Since it took them so long to date after knowing each other the tension kept building, especially when it seemed obvious to each of them that they liked each other.  Overall, the tension and character changes forced from the relationship were most interesting to me.

Gripped Part 1 sets up the rest of the series but leaves a lot of things “hanging.” What are you most curious to uncover by reading Gripped Part 2? 

I am most curious to uncover what Jason did to Cathy.  How did he get her addicted to drugs and why does he feel like he is so at fault for what happened to her.  I’m also curious what he will tell Chantal about this story and how Chantal will react.  I wonder if she will be extremely upset, mad, or feel bad.Overall, I’m most curious about this because it seemed in gripped part 1 that they had such a great relationship together and that nothing bad could ever happen to them.


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 of Netflix’s Emmy-winning series ‘Last Chance U’

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.