The Plot Twists & Drama in ‘Taylor’s Story’ Leave Readers Gripped

Written by Maya Daly, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Maya is a senior at Duxbury High School, where she is a member of the Varsity Rowing Team. In school, she is a part of the yearbook club, Best Buddies club, and Habitat for Humanity. She enjoys studying English and history, and plans to major in one of those subjects in college. 

With the release of Taylor’s Story, the Gripped series by Stacy Padula continues to be relevant for all young adults and high schoolers to read. As this series progresses, the topic of drug addiction and abuse stays relevant throughout, proving to be a cautionary tale of the dangers that come with them. Both a thrilling and suspenseful book, Taylor’s Story captures the dangers that come with drugs while enticing readers to continue reading with dramatic plot twists and storylines. 

The many topics in this book are very relatable on many levels for most teens.  From being exposed to various bad situations or peer pressure, to drama with friends and family, Gripped has it all. However, seeing these situations play out over the course of the five books proves that drug addiction and abuse only leads to serious consequences. Seeing the perspectives of the many characters, all with different experiences relating to the topic of substance abuse, shows readers how much of a slippery slope drug abuse can be. 

At this point, I think my favorite character is Jordan. One of the reasons that I like Jordan is because of the way that his character seems to have developed since he has gone to college. Despite him being labeled as a “party-animal” while he was in high school, once he arrived at college, he seems to have turned this all around, devoting himself to his academics and athletics. I think he has turned out to be one of the more responsible and moral characters of the series, which is surprising considering the way his character was originally portrayed. 

After reading the ending, I am very curious to see how Taylor’s storyline will progress. With the rather ominous ending of his family watching his video, it is unclear whether he will survive. I am curious to see what ends up happening with this plotline, and if he will make it back to his family. 


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

Now being adapted for TV!

Taylor Dunkin is missing.

The last message Jordan Dunkin receives from Taylor leads him to Taylor’s abandoned Jeep. Each of Taylor’s family members holds a piece of the puzzle, and as the Dunkins begin putting the details together, they are awakened to the possibility they may never see Taylor again.

No one can find Missy Kent.

Missy’s boyfriend Luke Davids last saw her dancing with their friends at a nightclub, but she hasn’t responded to anyone’s texts or calls for hours.

Everything is connected.

Taylor and Missy’s friends are dangerously close to learning the truth, but their ignorance might be the only thing keeping them safe. Every clue is leading them closer to peril.

The fifth book in the Gripped series moves through details at a thrilling pace. Secrets are revealed and lives are at stake. Taylor, Missy, their friends, and their families must figure out who they can trust before it’s too late.

Taylor’s Story won the Silver Award in the 2022 Readers’ Choice Book Awards for Best Teen Book.


“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.