Relatable Y.A. Novel Accurately Depicts the Social Struggles of High School

Written by Bella Gill, Pembroke, Massachusetts

Bella is a junior at Pembroke High School in Pembroke, Massachusetts.  She is a midfielder for the South Shore Select 2006 Girls Academy Soccer Team and is headed to the National Finals in St. Louis this summer.  She is also a midfielder for the Pembroke High School Girls Varsity soccer team.  Additionally, Bella is the vice-president of her class, a member of the Pembroke High School Yearbook staff and assistant coaches a U10 girls soccer team. Bella enjoys traveling with her family and friends, skiing, reading, babysitting, and working in the local office of a gastroenterologist. 
Bella’s favorite subjects include English, History, and Model UN.  She hopes to study abroad in Europe in college. 

As a junior in high school, I would recommend Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula to teenagers who are interested in hearing stories about other fellow middle and high school students. I think this story could be both riveting and informative to students who are surrounded by similar issues involving substance abuse. This narrative is comprised of both modern and realistic parts, that I believe teens and young adults may relate to and enjoy. As a young adult I can relate to the story because in my own high school there have been problems with drug use. I can also connect my personal experiences to the position that Cathy and Jon are put in when it comes to wanting to be liked, but having to make the right decision and stay away from alcohol and other substances. 

What I really enjoyed most about the story was how it flashed back in time to reveal details of Cathy and Chantal’s relationship and how the sisters grew apart. I also really liked that the book hinted at the idea that Jason’s influence caused Cathy to get involved in dangerous activities, but did not specify how or why. I enjoyed this because it made me want to read the next books to find out what really happened between them. 

Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told sends the message to readers that drugs and alcohol can be very addictive and therefore can harm or even destroy your life. It teaches people that substances can cause you to lose the support of friends, family, and force you to ruin opportunities that you once could have had.


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.