Takeaways from Taylor Dunkin’s Story

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.

Three important messages that Stacy Padula’s award-winning novel, Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story, sends to readers, in my opinion, are that (1) sometimes life is unfair, but you must let go of your anger and depression, (2) you can recover from drug abuse by surrounding yourself with supportive, positive people and removing yourself from the bad influences, and (3) engaging in the party scene with illegal drug abuse often means that you may be involved with or associated with criminals.

We learn in Gripped Part 5 why Taylor’s scholarship to Notre Dame was revoked. Taylor was involved in a situation in which he was not necessarily at fault (i.e., allowing his high school girlfriend at the time and her friends to swim at the high school pool against his wishes), but his scholarship to Notre Dame was revoked. Taylor, at the end of this book, realizes that it was this event that made him turn to drugs due to his anger and depression. Taylor now realizes that life is sometimes unfair, but you must move forward and make the best of any situation.

Even though both Chris and Jason are barely mentioned in the book, it is obvious to the reader that they are not mentioned since they have removed themselves from the party scene. We learn in Gripped Part 5 that Jason is now clean and sober and has freed himself from the grip of drugs. It appears that Jason has removed himself from the bad influences (e.g., the party scene) and is now associating with positive influences like Chris.

Gripped Part 5 also messages that being involved in illegal drugs means that you may also be involved with or associated with criminals. For example, Missy, Luke, Pat, and Laurelle had a narrow escape with the Bilotti crime ring since they believed Missy might have been Taylor’s girlfriend. The point is that when associating with the criminal element, there could be unexpected consequences or mistakes.


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

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.


“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.