The ‘Gripped’ Characters: Q&A with Nasin Groshek on ‘Smoke & Mirrors’

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.

After reading Gripped Part 4: Smoke & Mirrors by Stacy A. Padula Nasin was asked to share how his opinions of the characters have evolved over time…

  1. Luke

As I have read the book series, my opinion of Luke has become negative. I understand that Luke does not always partake in drug and alcohol abuse. Nonetheless, he enables the abuse of drugs and alcohol by his friends and family. Luke appears to be oblivious to how his supply of drugs and alcohol is ruining the lives of friends and family. In Luke’s mind, he is not a drug dealer because he makes no money off the sales but is just doing people favors by getting them what they want.

  1. Jordan

My opinion of Jordan has not changed. My impression is that Jordan has matured a lot since high school and is very serious about his future. In this book, he demonstrates maturity in his concern for his brother Taylor and the overall importance of his family to himself.

  1. Taylor

My opinion of Taylor has not changed. I am still rooting for Taylor to put his life back together. I hope that Taylor successfully can extract himself from the grips of the gangster and can restart his football career.

  1. Jason

My opinion of Jason has deteriorated as I have read the book series. Jason should have supported Chris’s efforts to become sober rather than ridicule Chris. Also, his drug abuse could likely result in Cathy losing herself while trying to save Chris.

  1. Cathy

My opinion of Cathy has not changed. She seems to have the right moral compass but is lost in not following through with her beliefs. In addition, her anxiety needs to be addressed by a professional as opposed to self-medicating to manage her stress.


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.