The Gripped Characters: Q&A with Olivia Halle on ‘Blindsided’

Article by Olivia Halle, Hingham, Massachusetts

Olivia Halle is a senior at Hingham High School. She is a member of the Varsity Tennis Team and also enjoys sailing, reading, and hiking. Olivia is involved in Hingham’s Mentor Program, Green Team, and Medical Sciences Club along with being president of her school’s National Honor Society. 

After reading Stacy Padula’s novel, Gripped Part 2: Blindsided, Olivia was interviewed about her honest thoughts on the characters and their relationships in the dramatic series.

  1. How has your opinion of protagonist Taylor Dunkin changed from the beginning of the series until the end of book 2?

At first, I felt that Taylor exuded a sense of entitlement and self-absorption, both of which made me repulsed by his very presence in the lives of adolescents and that he was a “role model” and “hometown hero”. However, Taylor is beginning to redeem himself by taking steps to get clean and away from dealing drugs as much as he can. I think these strides, especially by going to meet with Northeastern by the end of book 2, contribute to my feeling that he is beginning to understand how his drug addiction has not only affected his football career and relationship with his family, but how he has also been a contributing factor to the exposure of drugs to others and the catalyst of their own drug abuse.

  1. How has your opinion of Chris Dunkin changed since the beginning of the series?

I think my opinion on Chris has changed as I place more culpability on him for his own addiction. At the beginning of the series, I primarily placed blame on Taylor and his influence on Chris, but now I believe that Chris is mature enough to make his own decisions. After Chris overdosed, I realized that if someone chooses to use drugs, they need to understand the consequences, especially if they are mixing substances. However, after finishing Part 2, I am proud of Chris for prioritizing his wellness over his relationships with others, especially those who abuse substances.

  1. After reading books 1 & 2, are you rooting for Cathy Kagelli to end up with Jason Davids or Marc Dunkin?

I believe that Cathy should not end up with neither Jason nor Marc as she needs to prioritize her relationship with herself. Cathy’s crippling social anxiety causes her to turn to drugs, so she must work on her mental health before even considering a relationship with Jason or Marc. Yet, I feel that the best way for Cathy to be mentally healthy, she must work on her relationship with Chantal, as that seems to be the root of her anxiety.

  1. What are your honest thoughts on Chris Dunkin and Lisa Ankerman’s relationship?

I think that Chris and Lisa definitely needed to take a break from each other, as they both fed off of each other’s abuse of substances. Chris overdosing was the reality check that they both needed. What they are taking a part in, the abuse of substances, truly is fatal, and their reality check, Chris’s overdose, I think has enabled both of them to understand the need for positive influences in their respective lives. 

  1. Who are your two favorite characters so far in the series and why?

Right now, I definitely have to root for Chris and Taylor, as both of them are taking monumental steps in their roads to recovery. Chris’s frightening overdose placed him at a crossroads where he either would continue down a path of drugs, that would most likely eventually kill him, or he could choose to get sober; Chris choosing sobriety makes me proud of him for holding a value in his life and sobriety that he did not have prior to the OD. As for Taylor, I think he is taking similar steps to Chris in the sense that he is sobering up, and he is getting back into football, which is a clear indication to me that he has priorities straight. 


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.