Thrilling Y.A. Novel Sends Timely Messages to Teen Readers – by Deidre Mitchell

Written by Deirdre Mitchell, Villanova, PA

Meet Deirdre Mitchell

Deirdre is a junior in high school and attends the Academy of Notre Dame in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Deirdre enjoys dancing, traveling, and being with friends and family. One of Deirdre’s favorite places to travel was London. At school, Deirdre is a part of the dance company, environmental club, and campus ministry. Deirdre also runs her own non-profit organization, called Community Dress Shop, where she collects prom dresses and gives them to girls who would normally not be able to afford one.

Gripped 5: Taylor’s Story by Stacy Padula is full of suspense, thrills, and important lessons for teen readers. First, it sends the message to teens to be their true self. We see this through Luke, who felt like he had to pretend to be a big party boy so that Missy would stay with him. In the end, Luke became exhausted and was unhappy. He wasn’t behaving in a way that he was proud of and realized that if he could not be comfortable with being himself, then he and Missy were not a good match. A second message is to trust in God. For example, when Taylor lost his admission to Notre Dame and then became injured, he did not turn his suffering over to God and trust in Him. A third important message was to not overly stress over situations. Taylor always believed Jordan was not that goal-oriented and that he did not try as hard. Taylor believed that things came easily to Jordan. In the end, Taylor realized that Jordan just handles stress better and had a healthier perspective.

I would recommend this book to all teens, especially high school aged. Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story describes different scenarios where kids that start using drugs for any reason end up having bad things happen. The reader gets to experience the loss of friendships, family trust, and dreams destroyed. Through the different characters teens get to learn why the short term “thrill” of using a drug is not worth the damage it can cause and that using drugs is not worth the risks. I also feel that the topics covered are relevant to teenagers because there is a lot of focus and attention in getting into college. The readers can see how their behaviors and decisions have a long-term impact on their lives. Also, relationships are extremely important for teens and Gripped Part 5 shows how drugs damage both family bonds and friendships. 


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.