A Teenage Take on Stacy Padula’s “Gripped” Characters – by Sarah Parrish

| Written by Sarah Parrish, Dover, Massachusetts |

Meet Sarah Parrish

Sarah is a senior at Dover-Sherborn High School where she is captain of the Alpine Ski Team and the Track and Field Team. She is also a member of her school’s Peer Helping Club and Community Service club. Throughout the summer, Sarah works as a counselor at a local summer camp and also as a server at the Chatham Filling station. With a passion for leadership and athletics, she enjoys ski instructing at Burke Mountain and coaching field hockey for Dover-Sherborn Youth Field Hockey. She also enjoys her participation in the Senior High Youth Group at Pilgrim Church where she volunteers around her community. In her freetime, she enjoys boating, skiing, running and traveling. 

After reading Gripped Parts 1 through 5, Sarah was asked to share her honest thoughts on the characters.

What did you like best about Gripped 5, and who is your favorite character in the series at this point?

I liked hearing about Pat and Laurelle in this book because I thought their relationship was very interesting. They seem to love each other, however they both hookup and go on dates with other people and somehow do not get upset and jealous of each other. It is very surprising to me that they are able to make this work between each other, and I wonder where their relationship will go in the future. At this point in the story, my favorite character is Cathy but I also liked Luke in this book a lot, too.

What do you hope happens to:

  1. Taylor – I hope that Taylor is able to escape from the police and reunite with his family. 
  2. Cathy & Chantal – I hope that Cathy and Chantal are able to move past their struggles and forgive each other for all their hatred, because after all, Cathy didn’t mean to hurt her and they are sisters. 
  3. Cathy & Jason – I hope that Cathy and Jason do not continue their relationship and that Cathy will be happy with Marc. Although I initially liked them, their relationship was toxic and not healthy for either of them.
  4. Luke & Missy – I hope that Luke and Missy do not stay together because I don’t think that Luke is good for her. I think Missy has the potential to be great but Luke involves her with things that are not good for her. For example, if Luke were a better boyfriend she may not have gone missing at the club. 

How has your opinion of the characters evolved overtime? Specify what you now think of the following people after reading Gripped 5 vs. what your initial impression was:

  1. Taylor: My opinion on Taylor has remained mostly consistent through the series. Although I wish he had just gone home to his family instead of going to the club to try and make a little extra money before. However, he may have still been in this situation because of the police.
  2. Jordan: My opinion of Jordan has remained mostly consistent too, however, I like him more now. At the beginning of the series he was portrayed as a partier and never got as much recognition as Taylor. Now, I realize that he works just as hard and deserves the spotlight. 
  3. Marc: I have always liked Marc; at first I thought he was the younger brother who was not as cool as the older two, but now I think that he will have a very successful football career. I feel badly for him because of everything he has gone through with Taylor and his falling out with Jordan, but I think he is good for Cathy and I hope he succeeds at BC.
  4. Missy: I think that Missy is a fun character but has more potential. She doesn’t have a very strong backbone, and I think this holds her back. 
  5. Luke: Before Gripped 5, I did not think that Luke was a very good influence, but in this book I realized that he is a good person and doesn’t mean harm. However, I wish that he would stop dealing drugs. 
  6. Laurelle: I got to know Laurelle better in the book and I think that she is a good person; however, I don’t understand how she can be in a relationship with Pat. I think they would be great if they could commit to each other.


Taylor’s Story won the Silver Award in the 2022 Readers’ Choice Book Awards for Best Teen Book

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.

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.