Maeve Shortt on the “Gripped” Characters: The Truth We Never Told

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.

After reading Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy A. Padula, Maeve was asked to share her honest opinion about the characters and their storylines. Below are her responses:

  1. Who do you feel bad for and why?
    • I feel bad for Chantal throughout the “flashback” portion of the novel, because she is constantly trying to juggle her faith with her social life and find a balance. At her age, it is difficult to navigate religion and find out where she stands with it, and if it is necessarily a direct description of her morals. She also has the responsibility of taking care of her twin sister who formerly struggled with social situations. Therefore, Chantal took it upon herself to invite Cathy into her group, which must have required a lot of maturity. 
  2. Who frustrates you and why?
    • I am frustrated by Taylor and Jordan for not better shielding Chris throughout his early teen years, but mostly Taylor. If he truly was worried about Chris drinking and smoking, he would have made sure to have more control of the situation and separate his social life with his 13-year old cousin’s. Being exposed that early on can have a heavy effect on the rest of Chris’ life, and that is a risk that Taylor should not have taken. 
  3. Who do you most relate to and why?
    • I think that I most relate to Cathy, because it also takes me a while to warm up to people. I struggle with being open to making new friends, and I prefer to keep my circle small. I also do not know firsthand the dynamic that being a twin can come with, but having two younger brothers that are twins I can speculate the complexity of their relationship and somehow relate to what that may feel like. 
  4. Who do you like and why?
    • I like Marc Dunkin the most, because of his consistent reliability and his strong morals. He cares very much about his brother and his well-being, and that is shown throughout the entire book. I believe he also looks out for his cousin Chris more so than his two older brothers, and wants to shield him from their crazy tendencies. 
  5. Who do you hate and why?
    • I hate Jon, because although I understand it is difficult to balance friends, religion, and a girlfriend, it is his responsibility to communicate that. He allowed Chantal to believe that he had simply lost interest in her, when really he was just internally struggling. If he had relayed that to her, she would have done anything she could to help him. I do not necessarily blame him for the mistakes that he had made due to peer pressure, but what does bother me is that he continued to make those mistakes even though he did not feel pressured and just wanted to “numb his guilt”. 
  6. Whose storyline do you find the most compelling?
    • The storyline that I find the most interesting is Jason and Cathy’s, because the novel left off on a cliffhanger concerning what had happened between the two of them. Because the two of them are such intriguing characters with a lot of emotional depth to them, it is hard to imagine one hurting the other as intensely as the book leads us to believe. The “innocence” that Cathy held when they had first met, compared to the girls Jason was normally interested in also made their dynamic all the more entertaining. They cared about one another very much at such a young age, and the effect that Jason still has on Cathy in the present day clearly shows us that she is not over him, nor is he over her.

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.