The ‘Gripped’ Characters: Q&A with Timmy Weiss on ‘Smoke & Mirrors’

Written by Timmy Weiss, Weston, MA

Timmy Weiss is a senior at St. Sebastian’s high school.  He is a varsity tennis and varsity soccer player, as well as a part of MPA (men with positive attitudes), the newspaper named The Walrus, and the peer mentoring club. He enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, volunteering, and going to sports games. Soon he hopes to study communications in college. 

After reading Gripped Part 4: Smoke & Mirrors by Stacy Padula, Timmy was asked to share his thoughts on the characters’ arcs. His responses are below.

My opinions on Luke have completely changed after this book.  I used to think Luke was just a guy giving drugs to everyone and kinda a bad boy, but I’ve learned in this book how nice of a person he is.  In the end of the book Michelle even says he is the nicest Davids boy.

Another character my opinions have changed for.  He seems like an extremely caring and thoughtful person.  Caring for Julie, Marc, Taylor, Michelle and so on.  Jordan has matured at his time at Notre Dame and is becoming a great role model.

It’s great to see that Taylor has been sober for awhile now.  People who see him say he looks better and he really is trying to get out of the drug business.  His morals seem to be coming back.

Jason in this book was kinda all over the place.  I didn’t appreciate how he kept giving drugs to Cathy to “help” her.  It was hard to tell if he wanted to help her or if he was being selfish by making her take drugs.  She would have a much better time with him with the drugs and that’s all Jason wants to do sometimes.

Cathy made some weird decisions in this book, which either calls for a change in her character or the situation being severely off.  She was sober at times and would still take Jason’s offer to do drugs that she has never tried before just because her boyfriend said it would make her feel better.  Cathy is much smarter than that (at least I thought)  so I was very surprised by her behavior in this book.


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?

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.