Y.A. Novel ‘Blindsided’ Exposes the Effects of Opioid Abuse on Teens

Written by Sarah Parrish, Dover, Massachusetts

Sarah is a senior at Dover-Sherborn High School where she is captain of the Alpine Ski Team and the Track and Field Team. She is also a member of her school’s Peer Helping Club and Community Service club. Throughout the summer, Sarah works as a counselor at a local summer camp and also as a server at the Chatham Filling station. With a passion for leadership and athletics, she enjoys ski instructing at Burke Mountain and coaching field hockey for Dover-Sherborn Youth Field Hockey. She also enjoys her participation in the Senior High Youth Group at Pilgrim Church where she volunteers around her community. In her freetime, she enjoys boating, skiing, running and traveling. 

The drug use and sexual content in Gripped Part 2: Blindsided by Stacy Padula may get it banned from some schools, but the topics are too relevant in teenage culture to be ignored. I think this book should be read by students in middle and high school to prevent drug use before it happens. By being knowledgeable on the subjects and the consequences in these books, students will be more likely to steer away from drugs throughout their middle and high school years. Although it may be premature for some kids, it is also important to not hide these sensitive topics from them before it is too late. For those who are never surrounded by drugs, it is important for those students to know what goes on outside of their realm.

Through this book and the entire “Gripped” series, teens can learn the risk of drug use and what goes on behind closed doors. For those involved with drugs, they can further learn the harmful and addictive effects to motivate them to stop. For those not involved in drugs, it can educate them of what to avoid through the compelling stories of characters such as Taylor Dunkin, Chris Dunkin, Cathy Kagelli, and their friends.

From the beginning of the series to the end of Gripped Part 2, the protagonist Taylor Dunkin has drastically changed; however, he still has a long way to go. Although he has ended his drug use and is really trying his best to get his act together and continue playing football, he still has many relationships to repair. His work ethic and love for football is helping him to stay sober, but he would be doing himself a favor by going home for holidays and speaking with his brothers more. Getting sober is a very difficult task and Taylor seemed to do it with ease, however, he is not completely “sober” until he stops dealing to others.

In addition to Taylor’s story, which is the main focus of the “present-day” portion of the novel, the flashback focuses on his younger cousin Chris and his friends’ experiences with drugs such as molly, opiates, and benzos. At the beginning of the series, I did not think highly of Chris Dunkin because of his drug use, and I think he was not very good for his girlfriend Lisa. However, Chris has shown his effort to become better, and I think the ruin of his relationship with Lisa has helped him to improve. The night when he almost died was a crucial wakeup call for him, and I think he realizes that he was given another chance. Now that he is enjoying spending time with straight-edge Courtney Angeletti, he understands that he can enjoy life when he is sober and I think he has a better future ahead of him. However, if Chris is able to turn his life around and if he and Lisa really do enjoy being together, then I think they should reunite once Chris is able to fully prove that he is ready.

Another complicated relationship in the series is Cathy Kagelli and Jason Davids, which becomes a love triangle between Jason, Cathy, and Marc Dunkin (Taylor’s youngest brother). I am rooting for Cathy to end up with Jason because I think they really love each other. Although drugs have interfered, I think that they are good at communicating. In this book, Jason was very honest with Cathy about how her use of Xanax has destroyed her personality. Cathy was also very honest with Jason about how she doesn’t like him when he is stoned or tripping. Honesty and communication skills like this can take them a long way and help to repair their problems. I think that Marc is someone Cathy is using for a rebound and to distract herself from her feelings towards Jason. Cathy is my favorite character because I think it is interesting that she is so reserved but then sometimes openly shares her feelings, like her ranting conversation with Chantal. She also seems very intelligent and I hope that she stops using Xanax and cures her anxiety without drugs.


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

Fourteen-year-old Chris Dunkin is known for being the life of the party and everyone’s favorite friend. Despite his amicable nature, he carries around deep-seated pain from his childhood that he frequently numbs with alcohol and drugs.

After hosting a party, Chris awakes with a strange vibe running through his body and no recollection of the previous night. When he learns the horrifying truth of what his night entailed, the trajectory of his life is changed forever.

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.