Suspenseful Y.A. Novel Shares Imperative Message for Teens and Parents

Written by Nasin Groshek, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Nasin is a senior at Rising Tide Charter Public School, a college preparatory regional high school located in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  He enjoys travel, boating, photography, nature, volunteer work, and spending time with family and friends.  Nasin is a member of both the Community Action and Eco Clubs at Rising Tide.  He is also the founder of the Business Club at Rising Tide and looks forward to studying business in college.

As a senior in high school, I recommend that tweens, teenagers, young adults, and parents read Gripped Part 4: Smoke & Mirrors by Stacy A. Padula. This book, along with others in the series, addresses in a realistic manner drug and alcohol abuse by teenagers and the negative consequences of such abuse. This book and the series effectively educates tweens, teenagers, young adults, and parents about how drug and alcohol abuse may arise and the negative consequences to a young adult’s relationships and future aspirations.

The reality is that all teenagers are exposed to drugs and alcohol in some way. You often hear on the news of a teenager experimenting with drugs and unknowingly taking a substance laced with Fentanyl and dying from an overdose. This book and the series educates teenagers as to how and why teenagers may abuse drugs and alcohol and the unintended consequences of such abuse. For example, Jeff, who in this book accidentally took Vicodin, thinking it was Tylenol, could have quickly died of a drug overdose.

Adults should read this book to understand how drugs and alcohol can grip teenagers. This book takes a deep dive into the relationship between Jason and Cathy. Unfortunately, Cathy may become gripped by drugs in her attempt to save Jason from himself. I enjoyed the deep examination of the relationship between Jason and Cathy. We knew early in the book series that Jason and Cathy had ended their relationship and that Cathy had started dating Marc. This book examines how the relationship broke down between Jason and Cathy, primarily fueled by the grip of drugs on Jason.

Looking ahead to Gripped Part 5, I am most curious to learn about what happened to Taylor. At the end of Gripped Part 4: Smoke & Mirrors, we know that Taylor had a meeting with the gangster who supplied him with drugs and failed to pick up Jordan at the airport after meeting with this gangster. Both his brothers, Jordan and Marc, attempt to find Taylor based on the location he shared with them before meeting with the gangster. This book ends with Taylor’s father telling Jordan and Marc to come home to discuss what is happening with Taylor.

The focus of the whole book series is to educate tweens, teenagers, young adults, and parents about drug and alcohol abuse and the damaging consequences of such abuse. In my opinion, the Taylor storyline concerning the police and the gangster is the hook to keep readers interested in an exciting storyline while mixing in the education on drug and alcohol abuse. This strategy is effective in keeping all types of readers interested in the book series.


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

After spending her first month of high school grounded, Cathy Kagelli is finally allowed to socialize and uncover what her boyfriend, Jason Davids, has been up to without her. When Cathy realizes Jason has been experimenting with a variety of drugs, she devises a plan to save him from himself… but she just may lose herself in the process.

Meanwhile Taylor Dunkin finds himself playing a game with even higher stakes because his life, his reputation, and the safety of everyone he loves are all on the line. Taylor’s two younger brothers, Jordan and Marc, have been at odds for years, but they are brought together to decipher the mysterious clues Taylor is leaving regarding his whereabouts. As secrets are revealed, the Dunkin boys’ relationships will be changed forever. In Taylor’s weakest moment, he made a deal with the devil, and now there is a reckoning. But who will pay the price?


“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 (Ms. P) from Netflix’s Emmy Winning Docuseries “Last Chance U”

“Gripped is perfect for Middle School and High School students, as well as their parents. It is an educational, yet entertaining narrative that highlights the growing problem of addiction in the U.S and just how easy it is for harmless fun to take a dark turn, regardless of who you are or where you come from.” – Elizabeth Harvey, Emerson College

“I recommend Gripped to young adults in middle school and high school because this book addresses topics such as relationships, drugs, and alcohol that most books recommended for this age group don’t go into enough detail about. With the opioid epidemic at an all time high, it is important that teens educate themselves on the dangers that drugs bring, and this book does a great job at providing an in depth look on the consequences of getting involved in dangerous, illegal substances. I would also recommend this book to parents of teens so they can get a better understanding of how to deal with issues regarding addiction, or simply just issues regarding their children’s relationships. By reading about this story of young adults who got caught up in drugs, parents and teens will be better informed and will hopefully be more comfortable to have open conversations about the topic.” – Sophia Coggeshall, University of Notre Dame

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.