Award-winning Crime Novel “Gripped 5: Taylor’s Story” Inspires 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 Part 5: Taylor’s Story written by Stacy Padula is the latest book of the Gripped series, which is a detailed account about the life experiences of a group of high school and college students. The series addresses the group’s social dynamics, relationships, academic and athletic pressures, and the consequences of substance abuse. Gripped Part 5 focuses on Taylor Dunkin’s challenges to stay clean while terminating his connection with a local drug ring. Initially, Taylor’s involvement with the drug ring was unintentional. Following a football injury, Taylor became addicted to pain meds. This led to a series of poor decisions, resulting in Taylor becoming a drug dealer within the community he loved. Taylor is determined to get his life back together and agrees to help law enforcement. However, his desire to break free is dangerous not only for him, but also for his family and friends as they become intertwined within the complexities of organized crime.  

As the action unfolds, the reader witnesses not only Taylor’s personal revelations, but also his revelations about the people closest to him, especially his family. Taylor recognizes that during his disappointments and dark days he did not trust God, and by distancing himself from his faith, he lost his way. He contrasts himself with his brother Jordan whom, in the past, he had attributed to being less intense and less competitive than himself. Yet, Jordan is living out Taylor’s dream by playing football at Notre Dame. In the end, Taylor admits that Jordan had a stronger faith and better ability to handle stress than he did.

Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story teaches readers the life altering effects of substance abuse and exposes them to the reality that taking and selling drugs are serious crimes. It also shows how our decisions can negatively impact others. In addition, Gripped Part 5 encourages young adults to have faith in God and His plan when faced with obstacles and disapprovements. I rate this book a 5/5 because it addresses topics that many young adults do not realize have irreversible consequences, while offering a better and healthier path.


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.