“Gripped” Paints an Accurate Picture of Teenage Substance Abuse (Whether Parents Want to Believe It or Not) by Laurie O’Sullivan

| 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!

“Gripped Part 3: The Fallout” by Stacy Padula touches upon the use of Adderall, acid, marijuana, alcohol, and Xanax. For that reason, parents may not want their children to read the novel. However, whether parents want to believe it or not, kids will be exposed to drugs and alcohol in high school and college—sometimes even in middle school. The best way to prepare kids to stay away from making bad decisions is educating them on the negative outcomes that are bound to come out of those situations. This book is also told through the perspectives of the kids, not in a way where it sounds like a teacher lecturing them, which makes it more relatable. Although the Gripped books are arguably most targeted towards teenagers, they would give parents the perspective of their own kids as they possibly navigate these tough situations. The series can help them gain insight into teenagers’ minds and thought processes, instead of only being frustrated by them. It’s common for kids to close themselves off as they get older and this could be a good way to create some more open conversations and common understanding. 

I believe that Chris Dunkin’s story is a very accurate depiction of abusing substances. He started young, and this got him caught up very fast because he was always around older grades. His process was slow but when he decided to be sober it was partly for himself but more for the sake of his relationships. His friends had a lot to do with his journey in trying to improve, which shows the importance of having a good support system when you need help. You need people to hold you accountable, and encourage you to be your best self.

In this novel, the storyline between Marc Dunkin and Cathy Kagelli also piqued my interest. Cathy can be very hypocritical and then when she began to flirt with Marc at the party I started to wonder what relationships were going to fall apart. This was definitely not the only relationship that began to unfold around the middle of the book but it seemed most interesting to me. This book also made me more interested in Courtney Angeletti. She is new to the friend group, and I want to see how she will continue to adapt into this group. It can be seen how she may be using people to become “popular,” and I want to see if she will continue to change into a more “fake” person, like wearing makeup, drinking, and acting differently at parties. This could continue to drag her into this bad situation of partying a lot and abusing substances. 

Overall, “Gripped Part 3: The Fallout” shows that there’s no one reason people turn to drugs. In some cases it can happen after an injury when prescribed medication. In other cases, it could be getting caught up in the wrong crowd. And lastly, it can be out of an urge to fit in or become social if they are unhappy or anxious. Each character represents one of these reasons so the reader can get an inside look on each of their reasons for turning to drugs. 


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

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Meanwhile, Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost-one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger. Taylor is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

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.