Y.A. Novel Socially Prepares Teens for High School and College

Written by Olivia Halle, Hingham, Massachusetts

Olivia Halle is a senior at Hingham High School. She is a member of the Varsity Tennis Team and also enjoys sailing, reading, and hiking. Olivia is involved in Hingham’s Mentor Program, Green Team, and Medical Sciences Club along with being president of her school’s National Honor Society. 

As a senior in high school, I would recommend Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy A. Padula to any middle or high schooler who seeks to understand the environment that is evolving around them: adolescence. Gripped Part 1 deals with mature topics, yet provides an accessibility to teenagehood that is digestible for young adults. Through gaining insight into the opportunities that may be provided to them in the near future, young adults will be prepared for how they want to interact with their peers in order to make a decision that aligns with their values, escaping rash decisions with the potential to consume their lives. As a young adult, I relate to having to face the pressures of being surrounded by peers who participate in substance abuse and the choke hold it has on some of them. I watch as their lives become all-consumed by their addiction, and everything they do is in pursuit to satisfy it. I find myself holding similar sentiments to Marc: wanting the best for my friends, but feeling helpless in ensuring that they make positive choices.

This book sends readers the message to make decisions that will set up their futures for success, which means avoiding the potential dangers of substance abuse. As the plot unfolds, it elicits an urge to stick to one’s values, yet the book really expresses how difficult it is to escape the burden of peer pressure. The book makes an attempt to guide readers through interpersonal conflict while also providing a level of understanding and support, encouraging them to discern what is best for themselves. I really liked the pace of the book – the quickness just felt right, like a fever dream. I think the pace reflected how fast situations can escalate, and the importance of not making decisions, like drinking or doing drugs, without understanding the impact it could have on one’s future. Especially during the chapters when they are at Chris’s house for parties, the characters begin to spiral quickly, which demonstrates the risks of drugs and alcohol.

I find the storyline between Cathy and Chantal most interesting because they used to be so close, and I now have read the reasons why they no longer are speaking to each other. I think it’s even more interesting now that Chantal knows that Cathy didn’t break up her and Jon. I really liked their dynamics at the beginning of the flashback, being so supportive of each other allowed me to feel like I was learning about not only their relationship as sisters, but as friends too. I am also excited for the situation involving Taylor and the police to unfold. I think that it will really express how difficult it is to get out of drug culture, even when someone is in recovery. I love a crime thriller, and I have a feeling that Gripped Part 2  will develop a plot centering around it not be as easy as the detectives initially thought to take down the crime ring.


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.

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.