“Gripped” Recommended as a Relatable Read for Pre-teens & Young Adults – by Maeve Shortt

About Maeve Shortt

Maeve is a junior at St. John Paul II High School, where she is a member of the National Honor Society and a school retreat leader. She is a captain of her school’s varsity field hockey team, plays on the varsity lacrosse team, and is a player on the Cape Cod Field Hockey club team. Additionally, she was elected as a Cape-Cod All Star this past season. She is also a Climate Change Ambassador for the Cape Cod Commission. In the spring, Maeve will be attending the Mountain School of Milton Academy in Vershire, VT as a one-semester program. She hopes to study business and finance in the future.

As a junior in high school, I would recommend “Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told” by Stacy Padula to any pre-teen – young adult. For a young teen reader, the story is entertaining and relatable, but the struggles faced by the characters could be helpful for anybody who has or is currently struggling with addiction. I also believe that the characters could be enjoyed by any age, and there is something for everyone to relate to in the novel. “Gripped Part 1″ is particularly appealing to those in middle/high school because that is where the majority of the storyline in Part 1 is focused. 

As a young adult, I relate to the story in a variety of ways. Being a junior in high school, I see substance abuse commonly and I see many people who unfortunately fall victim to it. It is less customary for me to see people experimenting with the more intense substances that had been mentioned in the book, but the effect it has on loved ones is still similar. I also find a resemblance between my middle school drama and the drama that takes place in Cathy, Chantal, Jason, Jon, Lisa, and Chris’ life. I have had similar experiences with gossip and crushes, especially at that age. 

The message that this book sends to young readers is the solemnity of the situation that “experimenting” typically results in. At the young ages of the main characters, everything may seem harmless and fun, but that perception is quickly changed when it fast-forwards back to Taylor’s current state and situation. The lesson that I also took away from “Gripped Part 1” was that the gossiping and drama that takes place during your teenage years really does not mean anything, and as Jason said, it is more important to be quote-on-quote “self-centered” and worry about your own problems rather than focusing on others’ drama. 

What I liked best about the story was being able to see how Jason and Cathy’s relationship had initially blossomed, and having the opportunity to compare it to the present. It was very interesting to be able to see their “young love”, as you might call it, begin when they were only in seventh grade. It left me in suspense for Part 2, when it will hopefully be revealed what happened between the two of them to cause so much animosity. I am definitely most curious to uncover what had happened between Jason and Cathy to cause them to have drifted so much. I also am excited to find out the effect that their relationship held on Cathy and Chantals relationship, and if Jason is really to blame like he says he is. By reading “Gripped part 2”, I also am anxiously awaiting to hear what happened between Marc and Taylor after Marc’s meeting at Boston College.

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

In high school, Taylor Dunkin broke more records than any other athlete to step foot in Montgomery, Massachusetts. As a sophomore in college, he was ranked by ESPN as one of the NFL’s top 100 prospects. However, his aspirations came to a jarring halt when a season-ending injury sent him spiraling into a dark world of pain, depression, and addiction.

One year later, Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential investigation headed by the Boston Police Department. He has entangled himself in a crime ring notorious for pushing drugs on local college campuses. Montgomery’s hometown hero has fallen hard, and he’s taking a lot of people down with him.

Luke Davids has become the middleman between Taylor and teens in Montgomery who want to buy drugs. Freshmen Cathy Kagelli, Chris Dunkin, and Jason Davids are just a few of the students at Montgomery Lake High who have fallen victim to the benzos and opiates supplied by Taylor and Luke. 

When Taylor’s youngest brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious amount of pills circulating around his high school, he sets off to not only reverse the damage Taylor has caused, but also save his lifelong role model from becoming a casualty of America’s deadly opioid epidemic.

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.