What Keeps Teen Readers Gripped on “Gripped” – by Bella Gill

| Written by Bella Gill, Pembroke, Massachusetts |

Meet Bella Gill

Bella is a junior at Pembroke High School in Pembroke, Massachusetts.  She is a midfielder for the South Shore Select 2006 Girls Academy Soccer Team and is headed to the National Finals in St. Louis this summer.  She is also a midfielder for the Pembroke High School Girls Varsity soccer team.  Additionally, Bella is the vice-president of her class, a member of the Pembroke High School Yearbook staff and assistant coaches a U10 girls soccer team. Bella enjoys traveling with her family and friends, skiing, reading, babysitting, and working in the local office of a gastroenterologist. Bella’s favorite subjects include English, History, and Model UN.  She hopes to study abroad in Europe in college. 

The content of drug and alcohol abuse is very prevalent in teenage society, and important messages can be taken from reading Stacy Padula’s novel, Gripped Part 4: Smoke & Mirrors. As a junior in high school, I feel that the majority of the topics covered in Gripped Part 4 are directly relevant to teenagers because the actions taken by the characters are similar to those that modern-day high schoolers also partake in. It could be difficult for younger or older readers to comprehend this book due to some of the featured language, trends, and issues that are mentioned, but I would recommend it to high school students and other young adults. The story touches upon realistic events that occur during high school years, and it is easy for students surrounding this age to relate to the Gripped characters. In addition, I think it would be very beneficial for parents to read this book so they can understand what drug and substance abuse happens in high school. This is important so that they can then educate their child on the harmful effects, and make sure any teenagers they have are not participating in this type of dangerous activity.

My favorite part about this book was Taylor’s story, and how his family members started to come together in hopes of finding and saving him. I enjoyed reading about the Dunkin brothers and their attempts to rescue their once role model, football-star, older brother. As the book went on, past accusations and issues are no longer important, and all that matters is finding and helping Taylor. I loved how the author set up the book to have multiple storylines and plots going on at the same time. It was very interesting to read about a different event or separate scene in each chapter. I thoroughly enjoyed how each chapter was about new characters each time, and how I could know what each teen was doing in their lives even if they were not in the same place.

After reading Gripped 4, I am most curious to uncover what will happen to Taylor, and what news the Dunkin father had to share with Jordan, Marc, and Cathy at the end of the novel. Will Taylor continue on in college, or will he lead down the same dark path? I wonder how his future is going to play out and if he is going to be safe and sober.


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

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.