First Book in Gripped Series Hits Home with Teen Readers

| Written by Laurie O’Sullivan, Dover, Massachusetts |

Laurie O’Sullivan is a 17 year old senior at Dover Sherborn High School where she likes to be involved with sports and extracurriculars. She is part of the National Honor Society and tutors high schoolers who want extra help in biology. She runs on the track team, leads a service club, is part of a women’s group, and is involved with an environmental club. In her free time, she likes to read, listen to music, and play the piano. Her love for spending time with kids is shown through her summer job as a camp counselor and her regular babysitting hours. She hopes to study communications in college and travel a lot in the future!

In middle school and high school, it is common for teenagers to go down the wrong path as pressure builds or they get caught up in the wrong crowd. Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula makes kids more aware of how easily this can happen and maybe even become more conscious of their surroundings. As a teenager myself, I’ve seen many kids start to get in trouble in school, with the police, and get stuck in some sticky situations and it’s comforting for there to be a book that portrays all of these situations. It can even help guide kids in the right direction and away from the path Taylor Dunkin fell down.

I would recommend Gripped Part 1 to high school and college students. This book touches on topics such as substance abuse, which to younger kids could be too much, but to teenagers is a very real issue that many of them have seen, first hand, at this point in their lives. Gripped sheds light on a very prevalent topic in this age group. It can help them understand the feelings and actions in situations like this and make sure they don’t feel alone if they have ever gone through it themselves or if someone they know has. The characters’ ages and setting are also perfect for this age group.

My favorite part of the story was the dialogue. I think in a book like this where it has a lot to do with relationships and young adults, seeing their interactions shapes their character development and shows their personality way more than any amount of description can. 

The first book in the Gripped series sends a wake up call to many young adults. It creates a sense of fear for the possibility of being surrounded by people struggling with substance abuse while also showing the effect of mental health beneath it all. Gripped Part 1 does a great job of shedding light on a tough topic, while also bringing out deeper meaningful connections, personal growth, and resilience to leave the reader feeling inspired to do their best and have sympathy for others.


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.