The Benefits of Reading ‘Gripped Part 3: The Fallout’

| Written by Bella Gill, Pembroke, Massachusetts |

Bella is a junior at Pembroke High School in Pembroke, Massachusetts.  She is a midfielder for the South Shore Select 2006 Girls Academy Soccer Team and is headed to the National Finals in St. Louis this summer.  She is also a midfielder for the Pembroke High School Girls Varsity soccer team.  Additionally, Bella is the vice-president of her class, a member of the Pembroke High School Yearbook staff and assistant coaches a U10 girls soccer team. Bella enjoys traveling with her family and friends, skiing, reading, babysitting, and working in the local office of a gastroenterologist. Bella’s favorite subjects include English, History, and Model UN.  She hopes to study abroad in Europe in college. 


Gripped Part 3: The Fallout by Stacy Padula teaches readers that people begin using drugs for a variety of reasons. Some people are following the choices of an older sibling they trust who leads them in the wrong direction; others are trying to feel popular or to avoid their own emotions; one even struggles with the effects of a prescribed drug that leads to further drug use. 

As a junior in high school, I think that tweens and teens would benefit from reading Gripped Part 3 because they could see how teens start off using one drug, thinking it is no big deal, and it spirals into using something even more dangerous. The characters in the story draw these imaginary lines, deciding well I’ll use one drug, but not another, and it never works. They always wind up making horrible decisions once they start using at all. It is also important for readers to see how risky it is to start mixing different substances together, such as combining Xanax and alcohol.  

I think that adults could benefit from reading Gripped Part 3 because they could see how some teen characters are using drugs daily and the adults in their lives don’t even notice. Parents need to know how to look for signs and to understand that many teens don’t want to make bad decisions but eventually give in to peer pressure. I also thought it was interesting that one character, Jason, was actually forced into taking Adderall by his own parents even though he did not like the way it made him feel.

More specifically, I believe readers can benefit from reading about Chris Dunkin’s journey from the beginning of the Gripped series until now because they can see what it is like for a character to hit rock bottom.

They can also see that he has experienced setbacks, and he must be willing to give things up in order to hopefully get better. This is why Chris is forced to abandon some of his friendships and relationships that tempt him to keep making bad choices. He realizes that he cannot keep putting himself in certain situations if he wants to stay clean and sober.

Synopsis

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

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Meanwhile, Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost-one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger. Taylor is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

The Gripped Characters: Q&A with Olivia Halle on ‘The Fallout’

| Written by Olivia Halle, Hingham, Massachusetts |


Olivia Halle is a senior at Hingham High School, where she is the president of National Honor Society. She is a member of the Varsity Tennis Team and also enjoys sailing, reading, and hiking. Olivia is involved in Hingham’s Mentor Program, Green Team, and Medical Sciences Club. 


After reading Gripped Part 3: The Fallout by Stacy Padula, Olivia was interviewed about her honest thoughts on the characters and storyline.

  1. What storylines were most intriguing in Gripped Part 3? What kept you wanting to turn the page?

Jason and Cathy’s storyline made this book a one-sit read as I became so frustrated at the codependency of their relationship. The two of them are both such conscientious people, but together they each feel the other’s problems and it leads them both to abuse substances. I also enjoyed Chris’s trials and tribulations of recovering from addiction and his relapse, for I think that it will lead to an intriguing storyline in Part 4. 

  1. As drug use abounds in the series, some characters are trying their best to sober up, while others are getting deeper and deeper into substance abuse. How do you think readers can benefit from reading about Chris’s journey from the beginning of the series until now?

Readers will learn of how drug addiction is formed, the warning signs, and how difficult maintaining sobriety after substance abuse is when they read Chris’s journey. Especially in Gripped Part 3, Chris attempts to create an environment that alleviates him from the pressures and opportunities that contributed to his addiction, illuminating the strain addiction and recovery has on relationships. Chris’s story will invoke sympathy in the readers but will also pose them against drugs, if not for their own health, for their relationships.

  1. At this point in the series, what character intrigues you the most and why?

I think Taylor is currently the most intriguing character due to the news of the investigation into the higher ups of the Northeastern drug scene. I am excited to see how the investigation will not only impact Taylor and his relationship to drugs, but also how it will affect his relationship with his family. As the investigation progresses, I think more information concerning Taylor’s drug addiction will be revealed, which I am sure will pique my interest.

  1. Chris loves Jordan, but Marc hates Jordan. He has slowly been introduced to the reader in the first three books and will play a more significant role later in the series. At this point in the series what are your honest thoughts on Jordan?

I don’t feel like I can make a fair assessment of Jordan as I have only learned of his character through other characters alluding to him. After reading Part 3, I now know that Jordan did not drug Michelle, which was the primary flaw that was spoken about him, so I feel that he cannot be a horrible person, especially as he respected Michelle by not revealing the reason as to why she was throwing up. Jordan is doing phenomenal at Notre Dame, both on and off of the field, so I am eager to read more about him hopefully in Part 4.

Synopsis

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

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Meanwhile, Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost-one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger. Taylor is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

Y.A. Crime Novel Teaches Teens about the Perils of Opiate Abuse

Written by Nasin Groshek, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Nasin is a senior at Rising Tide Charter Public School, a college preparatory regional high school located in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  He enjoys travel, boating, photography, nature, volunteer work, and spending time with family and friends.  Nasin is a member of both the Community Action and Eco Clubs at Rising Tide.  He is also the founder of the Business Club at Rising Tide and looks forward to studying business in college.


I recommend all middle and high school students read Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story by Stacy Padula. Young adults can learn that bad choices like substance abuse can adversely affect their family, friends, and safety. This book dives into Taylor’s trials and tribulations of becoming addicted to painkillers and becoming a drug dealer. I liked the suspense associated with the Taylor storyline and his interactions with the Bilotti crime family and the FBI undercover agent.

In Gripped Part 5, both Chris and Jason are barely discussed throughout the various storylines. This is because Chris and Jason have escaped the grip of drugs and alcohol and are no longer involved in the party scene. This book demonstrates that being involved in a party scene with illegal drugs and alcohol abuse often means that you may be involved with or associated with criminals.

Looking ahead to Gripped Part 6, I am curious to learn whether Taylor can reunite with his family and whether Taylor’s friends and family will remain safe. I am also interested to know whether the Bilotti gang will be brought to justice and whether Taylor, at some point, can resume his college football career.


Synopsis

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.

Reviews

“Invigorating, engaging and a must read. The characters in The Gripped Series diligently tackle the essence of forces that can limit greatness within.” – LaTonya Pinkard (Ms. P) from Netflix’s Emmy Winning Docuseries “Last Chance U”

“Gripped is perfect for Middle School and High School students, as well as their parents. It is an educational, yet entertaining narrative that highlights the growing problem of addiction in the U.S and just how easy it is for harmless fun to take a dark turn, regardless of who you are or where you come from.” – Elizabeth Harvey, Emerson College

“I recommend Gripped to young adults in middle school and high school because this book addresses topics such as relationships, drugs, and alcohol that most books recommended for this age group don’t go into enough detail about. With the opioid epidemic at an all time high, it is important that teens educate themselves on the dangers that drugs bring, and this book does a great job at providing an in depth look on the consequences of getting involved in dangerous, illegal substances. I would also recommend this book to parents of teens so they can get a better understanding of how to deal with issues regarding addiction, or simply just issues regarding their children’s relationships. By reading about this story of young adults who got caught up in drugs, parents and teens will be better informed and will hopefully be more comfortable to have open conversations about the topic.” – Sophia Coggeshall, University of Notre Dame

My Top 3 Takeaways from ‘Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story’

Written by Maya Daly, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Maya is a senior at Duxbury High School, where she is a member of the Varsity Rowing Team. In school, she is a part of the yearbook club, Best Buddies club, and Habitat for Humanity. She enjoys studying English and history, and plans to major in one of those subjects in college. 


Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story by Stacy Padula sends many important messages to readers. Here are my top three:

Staying true to moral and social values, despite what the people around you may be doing. A common theme we see in the series is how easy it is to cave to social pressures, and how distancing yourself from your beliefs is never a good thing, and can only lead to bad consequences. 

To communicate before making quick judgments. Another common storyline we see throughout the series is the progression of brothers Marc and Jordan Dunkin’s tumultuous relationship, which has mainly been caused due to what now seems to be a misunderstanding. If this had been communicated earlier on, the two would not have had so much tension and anger between themselves. 

Asking for help before it is too late. As Taylor had gotten himself deeper and deeper into drugs, he inevitably got himself involved with a rather “bad” crowd. At this point in the series, this has thrown Taylor into a very bad place, where it is unclear if he will make it out of this situation alive. If he had been more open about his issue, he could have had help before he had gotten too far deep and involved with this crowd. 

Synopsis

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

Now being adapted for TV!

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.

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

Reviews

“Invigorating, engaging and a must read. The characters in The Gripped Series diligently tackle the essence of forces that can limit greatness within.” – LaTonya Pinkard (Ms. P) from Netflix’s Emmy Winning Docuseries “Last Chance U”

“Gripped is perfect for Middle School and High School students, as well as their parents. It is an educational, yet entertaining narrative that highlights the growing problem of addiction in the U.S and just how easy it is for harmless fun to take a dark turn, regardless of who you are or where you come from.” – Elizabeth Harvey, Emerson College

“I recommend Gripped to young adults in middle school and high school because this book addresses topics such as relationships, drugs, and alcohol that most books recommended for this age group don’t go into enough detail about. With the opioid epidemic at an all time high, it is important that teens educate themselves on the dangers that drugs bring, and this book does a great job at providing an in depth look on the consequences of getting involved in dangerous, illegal substances. I would also recommend this book to parents of teens so they can get a better understanding of how to deal with issues regarding addiction, or simply just issues regarding their children’s relationships. By reading about this story of young adults who got caught up in drugs, parents and teens will be better informed and will hopefully be more comfortable to have open conversations about the topic.” – Sophia Coggeshall, University of Notre Dame

The ‘Gripped’ Characters: Q&A with Timmy Weiss on ‘Taylor’s Story’

Written by Timmy Weiss, Weston, MA

Timmy Weiss is a senior at St. Sebastian’s high school.  He is a varsity tennis and varsity soccer player, as well as a part of MPA (men with positive attitudes), the newspaper named The Walrus, and the peer mentoring club. He enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, volunteering, and going to sports games. Soon he hopes to study communications in college. 


After reading Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story, Timmy was asked to share his opinion on some of the characters. His responses are below.

In Gripped Part 6 what do you hope happens to…

Taylor 
I hope Taylor finds a way to be safe and that he can still live a normal life after this whole situation.  

Cathy & Chantal 
I hope that Cathy and Chantal’s relationship builds back up so it becomes what they used to have together.  I think Cathy would finally regain herself if she had Chantal back in her life and her anxiety problems could go away.

Cathy & Jason 
I hope that Cathy and Jason get on friendly terms but I do not want them to get back together, since I think their relationship could easily be toxic for the both of them.

Luke & Missy 
I hope Luke and Missy stay together because I think Luke is overthinking the fact that Missy is using him.  At the end of part 5 Missy was asking genuine questions about Luke and acted with a lot of care towards him.

How has your opinion of the characters evolved overtime?

Taylor 
I always thought Taylor was naturally gifted in football and partied to have fun as well, but I was wrong as he was extremely hard working and mature in high school.  I really like Taylor.

Jordan 
I used to think Jordan was only a partier and didn’t really care about much, since everything came easy to him, but in fact it’s the opposite.  Jordan has been working tirelessly at Notre Dame and his faith, life, and morals have improved significantly.

Marc 
I have always respected Marc for his constant maturity and commitment to things.  However, I have lost a little bit of respect for the fact that he isn’t close to forgiving Jordan, even though he admits that Jordan seems different and more mature.

Missy 
I’ve always thought of Missy as super popular and kind of just messes around at parties all the time.  However, my opinion has changed as I’ve realized she loves to talk to people and she is very accepting.

Luke 
I’ve started to like Luke more and more after the last couple of books and that continued when I learned he doesn’t enjoy doing drugs or using alcohol and that he only does it to fit in.  Luke matured in this book as he now is taking a firm stance against drugs.

Laurelle
I didn’t really know Laurelle before this book other than she likes to party and is very pretty.  However, I have learned Laurelle is a very nice person and a very fun person to be around.  She seems to always cheer people up and solve problems quickly, turning them into some lighthearted.

Synopsis

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.

Why Adults & Teens Will Benefit from Reading “The Fallout”

Written by Deirdre Mitchell, Villanova, PA

Deirdre Mitchell 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 3: The Fallout by Stacy A. Padula addresses rough topics that some parents might be hesitant to have their kids read about. However, the book exposes teens to real life circumstances while providing valuable lessons and alternative, healthy choices.

For example, the female lead character, Cathy Kagelli is addicted to Xanax, a prescription drug. Cathy’s misuse of the substance causes a change in her personality, which ruins her relationships with her friends and her boyfriend. Cathy’s story gives the readers insight into drugs and the importance of not misusing any drug even if it is medicine. Cathy took Xanax one night before a party and made the bad decision to drink alcohol. As a result, she became drunk very quickly and had sex with her boyfriend Jason for the first time. Cathy did not remember anything the following morning.   

Gripped Part 3 teaches readers that people start using drugs for various reasons. Some experiment because of peer pressure while others believe it will help them in some way. There is also a perception that using drugs is “cool,” fun, and that it helps to gain popularity. For others, it is an escape from deeper issues with family, friends, academics, or athletics. 

The benefit of reading about Chris Dunkin’s journey to sobriety is that it can serve as inspiration to others that find themselves addicted to a substance. Chris is very popular and known as “the life of the party”. He is always throwing parties and getting drunk/high. However his desire and determination to get sober sends a positive message to teens that you don’t need to drink or smoke to be “cool.” I respect Chris’s desire and commitment to getting sober. I also find Chris very mysterious. After he broke up with Courtney, he began to hang out with Chantal and some of her friends. I found this interesting because he had not been friendly with Chantal since she and Cathy stopped talking. 

Adults will benefit from reading Gripped Part 3 by exposing them to the reality of teenage substance abuse. I believe many parents are unaware of the high use of drugs in high schools today. Gripped Part 3 will not only inform parents but also it will encourage them to speak to their kids about this important topic. Lastly, the book does an excellent job in showing forgiveness to teens that have experimented and struggled with substance abuse. Taylor Dunkin’s parents encourage him to rejoin the family for Easter following his drug addiction. His parents showed him unconditional love and they never gave up on him. 

Synopsis

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

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Meanwhile, Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost-one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger. Taylor is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

Accurate Representation Matters: why the Gripped book series belongs in schools

| Written by Olivia Halle, Hingham, Massachusetts |


Olivia Halle is a senior at Hingham High School, where she is the president of National Honor Society. She is a member of the Varsity Tennis Team and also enjoys sailing, reading, and hiking. Olivia is involved in Hingham’s Mentor Program, Green Team, and Medical Sciences Club. 


The young adult novel, Gripped Part 3: The Fallout by Stacy Padula touches upon the use of Adderall, acid, marijuana, alcohol, and Xanax. For that reason, schools may hesitate to have their students read this novel. However, reading Gripped Part 3 would benefit all adolescents as they confront the world around them and learn how to navigate their exposure to substances and abuse. Gripped Part 3 exposes the brutal consequences of party culture and substance abuse, warning both teens and tweens of the negative implications that can arise. Even more so, the novel humanizes the indescribable challenges of going through addiction and how it can impact relationships, portraying substance abuse in a way that will make young adults thoroughly contemplate their values.

Adults would also benefit from reading Gripped Part 3, as they will be better equipped to prepare their children to handle a world in which their peers may pressure them to partake in substances.

The Gripped series depicts the harsh realities of substance abuse through both the denial of addiction and the attempts to recover from addiction, which will provide adults with information on the cyclical and paralyzing nature of addiction. After reading, adults will surely be able to take a staunch opposition to substance abuse and will consequently instill the same tenet into their children.

Through Gripped Part 3, readers will see that drugs are often used as a coping mechanism, a form of escapism. All of the characters in the series that partake in and abuse substances attempt to find relief from the burdens and struggles of their daily lives, rather than confronting and resolving their issues. Part 3 warns readers that drugs do not solve problems nor do they provide substantive comfort, which encourages readers to face their challenges rather than temporarily numb the discomfort by abusing substances. For all of these reasons, Gripped Part 3 and the entire series should be embraced by high schools as an educational tool teenagers will gladly read because of its relatable content, compelling characters, and suspenseful storyline.

Synopsis

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

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Meanwhile, Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost-one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger. Taylor is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

The Gripped Characters: Q&A with Laurie O’Sullivan

| Written by Laurie O’Sullivan, Dover, Massachusetts |

Laurie O’Sullivan is a 17 year old senior at Dover Sherborn High School where she likes to be involved with sports and extracurriculars. She is part of the National Honor Society and tutors high schoolers who want extra help in biology. She runs on the track team, leads a service club, is part of a women’s group, and is involved with an environmental club. In her free time, she likes to read, listen to music, and play the piano. Her love for spending time with kids is shown through her summer job as a camp counselor and her regular babysitting hours. She hopes to study communications in college and travel a lot in the future!


After reading Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula, Laurie was interviewed about her honest thoughts on the characters and the situations they find themselves in as the novel unfolds.

  1. Out of all the characters, many of whom are in bad situations, who do you feel bad for and why?

I feel bad for Taylor Dunkin because he got swept away by opiates after his injury. Everything he had been so proud of came falling down and he turned towards drugs to feel not only physical relief, but mental relief too. He had so much potential and was used to being “top dog” at his school, his life fell apart very quickly. 

  1. Who frustrates you? 

Luke Davis frustrates me the most because he enables a lot of the issues in Montgomery High. Being the middleman is definitely a hard position to be in and can get him in even more trouble than Taylor. He fell down this path not because of an injury, but because of a lost relationship. It seems as though falling into opiates through an injury seems easier and it could be easier to prevent in Luke Davids’ case. This seems ignorant to say but as a reader it is a frustrating situation.  

  1. Who do you most relate to?

I relate to Marc Dunkin the most. He was born into a family where talents come naturally to his siblings more than him. I feel this in my own life with my family and I can relate to the pressure he puts on himself because of this. He’s social and has a lot of friends but still cares about sports, academics and family. 

  1. Who is your favorite character at this point in the series? 

I like Taylor because his personality and storyline is so nuanced and the reader gets to know him arguably the most out of the characters. I feel bad for Taylor, annoyed by Taylor, and grow to like him all within the same book.

  1. Do you hate anyone?

I can’t say I “hate” any of the characters, but Jason Davis definitely frustrates me because he has so much potential and he knows it, but he gets caught up in bad situations, like drugs, so easily. 

  1. There are a few different storylines running through Gripped Part 1 because it is setting up the rest of the series. Whose storyline do you find the most interesting?

The storyline of Taylor and the police was definitely the most interesting for me. There’s constant trouble and it makes for the most exciting storyline that pulled me in the most. You never really know what’s coming next with Taylor, and it makes for a very intriguing read. 

  1. Gripped Part 1 sets up the rest of the series but leaves a lot of things “hanging.” What are you most curious to uncover by reading Gripped Part 2?

The entirety of Gripped Part 1 is one large cliffhanger. This is crucial for the reader to want to dive into the next book. I not only want to know the immediate outcomes of crumbling relationships and kids getting in trouble, but how their lives will pan out as they move forward into college and the rest of their lives beyond Montgomery Lake High.

Synopsis

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.

3 Important Messages in ‘Gripped 5: Taylor’s Story’ Make It a Must-read for Teens

Written by Timmy Weiss, Weston, MA

Timmy Weiss is a senior at St. Sebastian’s high school.  He is a varsity tennis and varsity soccer player, as well as a part of MPA (men with positive attitudes), the newspaper named The Walrus, and the peer mentoring club. He enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, volunteering, and going to sports games. Soon he hopes to study communications in college. 


I would recommend Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story by Stacy Padula to teenagers, especially younger ones.  The book mostly details the risky behaviors of high schoolers.  It is important for young teens to learn how dangerous using drugs can be before they get to the age where an opportunity to use substances is possible.  Learning the serious effects drugs can have on someone’s life will hopefully help teenagers from engaging in dangerous substances. The topics are extremely relevant because as a teenager you want to have a lot of fun.  Whatever you can do to have more fun teenagers try, which makes drugs so appealing at times.  In the book when people tempt others with drugs they make it seem fun, but the reality is that the effects will be much worse and at times devastating.  We learn through Taylor that starting simple on drugs can easily lead to a downhill spiral that could put yourself in a horrible spot like Taylor’s involvement in the mafia.

This book sends many important messages to readers. The first is that supplying drugs to people can cause harm that you do not intend.  The second is that using drugs to have a good time is extremely dangerous because we don’t realize when we have used too many drugs and we think taking substances will help us have more fun, when it will do the opposite.  Lastly, is that God always has a plan for us, even when things seem to go wrong, so the more we can trust in that plan the better.

The thing I liked best about this book was how Taylor connected with all of his younger brother Marc’s friends.  It was very interesting to see the relationship that he built with them while not revealing that he was a drug dealer trying to get free.  I also really enjoyed how an exclusive number of characters knew certain things.  Lots of times in the book one character would know something, but another wouldn’t and it would build suspense and drama very well. 

In Gripped Part 6, I am most curious to uncover how Taylor will stay safe with so many people after him.  I’m also curious what information Taylor will share with the FBI that can hopefully help shut down the bilotti’s crime regine and drug supply in Boston.  Next, I am very curious to see if Paul and his guys will go after Taylor’s family or if they will be safe because Rob told them things.  Lastly, I am curious to learn whether Cathy will be drawn back to Jason or if her and Marc will become boyfriend and girlfriend.

Synopsis

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.

Why I Believe “Blindsided” by Stacy Padula Belongs in Schools

Written by Bella Gill, Pembroke, Massachusetts

Bella is a junior at Pembroke High School in Pembroke, Massachusetts.  She is a midfielder for the South Shore Select 2006 Girls Academy Soccer Team and is headed to the National Finals in St. Louis this summer.  She is also a midfielder for the Pembroke High School Girls Varsity soccer team.  Additionally, Bella is the vice-president of her class, a member of the Pembroke High School Yearbook staff and assistant coaches a U10 girls soccer team. Bella enjoys traveling with her family and friends, skiing, reading, babysitting, and working in the local office of a gastroenterologist. Bella’s favorite subjects include English, History, and Model UN.  She hopes to study abroad in Europe in college. 


I strongly believe Gripped Part 2: Blindsided by Stacy Padula should be read by kids in middle and high school because it teaches great lessons about how drugs and alcohol can truly mess up your life and the way your brain works. This novel informs kids about the harsh realities of substance abuse and how your life can easily enter a downward spiral once you become addicted. I feel as if teenagers must be educated on this topic due to the increasing amount of peer pressure and illegal activity occurring in high school ages.

Kids and teens can learn many valuable lessons from the Gripped novels. The most important thing they will learn is how harmful substances really are. They will be forced to take in the importance of staying away from drugs due to the fact that the book highlights how they have changed the lives of many of the main characters.

Synopsis

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

Fourteen-year-old Chris Dunkin is known for being the life of the party and everyone’s favorite friend. Despite his amicable nature, he carries around deep-seated pain from his childhood that he frequently numbs with alcohol and drugs.

After hosting a party, Chris awakes with a strange vibe running through his body and no recollection of the previous night. When he learns the horrifying truth of what his night entailed, the trajectory of his life is changed forever.

Q&A with Plymouth North’s Julia Trenholm on “Gripped Part 2: Blindsided”

| Written by Julia Trenholm, Plymouth, Massachusetts |

Julia Trenholm is from Plymouth, Massachusetts where she attends Plymouth North High School. Her favorite subjects include marketing and science. Some of her hobbies include cheerleading and singing in the Northern Lights A cappella group. Julia would like to study communications in college.


After reading Stacy Padula’s Y.A. novel, Gripped Part 2: Blindsided, Julia was asked a series of questions about her opinion on certain characters, the plot line, and the messages in the book.

  1. How has your opinion of Taylor changed from the beginning of the series until the end of book 2?

My opinion of Taylor has changed from the beginning of the series until the end of book 2. I went from feeling hopeful that Taylor would escape and get out of his bad habits using drugs and alcohol, because in the ending of Book 1 we saw him starting to regret his poor choices and wanting to get his life back on track. Now towards the end of Book 2, I feel upset about Taylor because he still has involvement with drugs; even if he isn’t using them personally, he is trapped in a drug ring that deals substances to high school and college kids. We can tell Taylor is truly trying to get on a better path, but it’s been a struggle for him to break the pattern completely. I do still believe there is hope for him to break the habit and get better.

  1. How has your opinion of Chris changed since the beginning of the series?

Chris seemed to not really care about his friends’ involvement with drugs and the choices they made in Book 1. I wasn’t the biggest fan of him because he was the one who mainly got his friends hooked on drugs and substances. Now after reading Part 2, I realized my opinion has remained the same as Chris just kept digging himself into a bigger hole as he continues to be hooked. 

  1. After reading books 1 & 2, are you rooting for Cathy to end up with Jason or Marc?

After reading books 1 and 2, I was back and forth between Jason and Marc for who I think is a better fit for Cathy. I feel that in the first book Jason and Cathy had such natural chemistry between each other, making them connect on a deeper level. They may have had a few problems in the last book but they worked their ways out in the end. I think Cathy and Jason just needed a break from each other as they both were going through their own personal issues, which resulted in conflict with each other. At the beginning of book 2, I liked the idea of Marc and Cathy being with each other because Marc is a very caring and loving person who might help balance Cathy out. Now as I finished reading book 2, I think Cathy and Jason understand each other like no other, and I am definitely rooting for them. I just hope the drugs don’t get in the way of their love for each other.

  1. What are your honest thoughts on Chris and Lisa’s relationship?

I believe that the relationship between the two was a bit toxic at the beginning and towards the middle of the book. This was until Chris had a near death experience with the involvement of drugs, which seemed to be a wake up call for him. He wasn’t treating Lisa the way she wanted to be treated and the drugs were a large part of this, taking over his body and mind. After going through this we can see he is making a conscious effort going forward to change his habits and to turn his life around. Lisa and him may not exactly be together, but when Chris is ready after working on himself, they may even reunite.

Synopsis

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

Fourteen-year-old Chris Dunkin is known for being the life of the party and everyone’s favorite friend. Despite his amicable nature, he carries around deep-seated pain from his childhood that he frequently numbs with alcohol and drugs.

After hosting a party, Chris awakes with a strange vibe running through his body and no recollection of the previous night. When he learns the horrifying truth of what his night entailed, the trajectory of his life is changed forever.

Hingham High School Senior Reviews ‘Gripped 3: The Fallout’ by Stacy Padula

| Written by Olivia Halle, Hingham, Massachusetts |


Olivia Halle is a senior at Hingham High School, where she is the president of National Honor Society. She is a member of the Varsity Tennis Team and also enjoys sailing, reading, and hiking. Olivia is involved in Hingham’s Mentor Program, Green Team, and Medical Sciences Club. 


Gripped Part 3: The Fallout by Stacy Padula confronts the struggles of recovering from substance abuse and the attempts that Chris Dunkin makes to stay clean. Chris begins his journey of recovery by surrounding himself with positive influences such as Courtney, Bryan’s ex-girlfriend, yet Chris is quickly swept back into the paralyzing cycle of substance abuse when he hosts a party on the last night of summer. Padula masterfully explores the relentlessness of addiction and the burdening strain that it exacts on relationships, which will surely make the reader feel that they are in the whirlwind of the book themself.

The Fallout also navigates the toxicity of relationships and codependency, which serves as an accessible warning to young adults to beware of the signs so that they can learn from the mistakes of the characters in the Gripped series.

Part 3 is perfect for all ages, as it provides an informative and humanizing storyline that allows its readers to prepare themselves for the brutal world of substances and ensure that they will make decisions that uphold their personal values. This fast-paced and invigorating novel is one that can be read in one sitting and will definitely leave you ready to uncover more of the Bilotti crime ring in Part 4.

Synopsis

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

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Meanwhile, Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost-one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger. Taylor is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

Takeaways from Taylor Dunkin’s Story

Written by Nasin Groshek, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Nasin is a senior at Rising Tide Charter Public School, a college preparatory regional high school located in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  He enjoys travel, boating, photography, nature, volunteer work, and spending time with family and friends.  Nasin is a member of both the Community Action and Eco Clubs at Rising Tide.  He is also the founder of the Business Club at Rising Tide and looks forward to studying business in college.


Three important messages that Stacy Padula’s award-winning novel, Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story, sends to readers, in my opinion, are that (1) sometimes life is unfair, but you must let go of your anger and depression, (2) you can recover from drug abuse by surrounding yourself with supportive, positive people and removing yourself from the bad influences, and (3) engaging in the party scene with illegal drug abuse often means that you may be involved with or associated with criminals.

We learn in Gripped Part 5 why Taylor’s scholarship to Notre Dame was revoked. Taylor was involved in a situation in which he was not necessarily at fault (i.e., allowing his high school girlfriend at the time and her friends to swim at the high school pool against his wishes), but his scholarship to Notre Dame was revoked. Taylor, at the end of this book, realizes that it was this event that made him turn to drugs due to his anger and depression. Taylor now realizes that life is sometimes unfair, but you must move forward and make the best of any situation.

Even though both Chris and Jason are barely mentioned in the book, it is obvious to the reader that they are not mentioned since they have removed themselves from the party scene. We learn in Gripped Part 5 that Jason is now clean and sober and has freed himself from the grip of drugs. It appears that Jason has removed himself from the bad influences (e.g., the party scene) and is now associating with positive influences like Chris.

Gripped Part 5 also messages that being involved in illegal drugs means that you may also be involved with or associated with criminals. For example, Missy, Luke, Pat, and Laurelle had a narrow escape with the Bilotti crime ring since they believed Missy might have been Taylor’s girlfriend. The point is that when associating with the criminal element, there could be unexpected consequences or mistakes.


Synopsis

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.

Reviews

“Invigorating, engaging and a must read. The characters in The Gripped Series diligently tackle the essence of forces that can limit greatness within.” – LaTonya Pinkard (Ms. P) from Netflix’s Emmy Winning Docuseries “Last Chance U”

“Gripped is perfect for Middle School and High School students, as well as their parents. It is an educational, yet entertaining narrative that highlights the growing problem of addiction in the U.S and just how easy it is for harmless fun to take a dark turn, regardless of who you are or where you come from.” – Elizabeth Harvey, Emerson College

“I recommend Gripped to young adults in middle school and high school because this book addresses topics such as relationships, drugs, and alcohol that most books recommended for this age group don’t go into enough detail about. With the opioid epidemic at an all time high, it is important that teens educate themselves on the dangers that drugs bring, and this book does a great job at providing an in depth look on the consequences of getting involved in dangerous, illegal substances. I would also recommend this book to parents of teens so they can get a better understanding of how to deal with issues regarding addiction, or simply just issues regarding their children’s relationships. By reading about this story of young adults who got caught up in drugs, parents and teens will be better informed and will hopefully be more comfortable to have open conversations about the topic.” – Sophia Coggeshall, University of Notre Dame

Chris Dunkin’s Journey Teaches Valuable Lessons about Recovery

Written by Sarah Parrish, Dover, Massachusetts

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. 


Through Chris Dunkin’s journey in the Gripped book series by Stacy Padula, readers can learn about how difficult recovery is and how surrounding yourself with the right people can be very beneficial.

Since Chris’s hospital experience in Gripped #2, he has been trying his best to stay away from drugs and surround himself with people that aid his recovery. However, when he was surrounded by drugs and alcohol at a party, it was easy for him to relapse and spiral down a bad path after he took acid with Jason. For this reason, readers can understand how difficult recovery can be and how small triggers can cause people to relapse. 

I think that Chris’s storyline was one of the most interesting in Gripped #3 because we saw how well he was doing, staying clean from drugs and building a healthy relationship with Courtney, which then went to ruins in one night. Courtney intrigues me a lot because we don’t know much about her yet. I think it is interesting that her new friends suspect she is starting to wear makeup and hangout with them for popularity. I also find it interesting that she ditched her old friends to join this new circle. I wonder if she will stay friends with them in the future and if she will ultimately choose Bryan or Chris.

To me, it was very sad when Chris shut Jason out of his life, and I find it interesting that Chris and Jason create a parallel to what Cathy went through with Chantal. Jason and Chris had been best friends for ten years prior to their falling out, and it seemed to Jason like Chris was blaming him for his own blunder. Meanwhile, Chris believed he was doing what he needed to do to get sober. It was interesting to see both sides, but heartbreaking to watch drugs abuse tear apart two very loyal friends. I also thought that Cathy and Chantal’s storyline was very interesting because it was suspenseful, wondering how Chantal ended up surrounded by Cathy’s friends after Jason’s party was raided by police. 

I look forward to seeing where Chris’s journey to sobriety takes him in Gripped #4. Now that he has broken away from anyone he perceives could be a bad influence on him, I wonder if he will find the strength he needs to lead the sober life he desires.

Synopsis

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

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Meanwhile, Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost-one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger. Taylor is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

Gripped 3: The Fallout – Readers Want More with Each Page They Turn

Written by Deirdre Mitchell, Villanova, PA

Deirdre Mitchell 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 3: The Fallout written by Stacy Padula is the third of a five book series about a group of teenage, high school students and their experiences with substance abuse.

Gripped Part 3: The Fallout describes dramatic events which happen due to some of the bad choices made by some of the main characters. For instance, Chris Dunkin breaks his sobriety streak when his close friend, Jason, convinces him to take acid at a party. Chris regrets his actions and in an effort to stay on the right path he decides to permanently cut Jason out of his life.

In addition, Cathy Kagelli, Jason’s girlfriend, also has a substance problem. Due to her anxiety, she becomes addicted to Xanax. One night before attending a party she secretly takes some Xanax. Unaware of Cathy’s bad decision, Jason encourages her to drink that night. She gets extremely drunk and ends up having sex with Jason. This is devastating for Cathy because she wanted to save herself for marriage. 

Gripped Part 3: The Fallout teaches its readers how drugs can cause people to make very bad and sometimes dangerous decisions that can have negative and irreversible outcomes for their future and for others whom they love. Gripped Part 3: The Fallout teaches readers these lessons while also keeping people entertained. I rate this book a 5/5 because it teaches readers valuable lessons and makes readers want more with each page they turn. 

Synopsis

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

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Meanwhile, Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost-one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger. Taylor is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

Taylor’s Story: an exhilarating page-turner with valuable lessons for all

Written by Timmy Weiss, Weston, MA

Timmy Weiss is a senior at St. Sebastian’s high school.  He is a varsity tennis and varsity soccer player, as well as a part of MPA (men with positive attitudes), the newspaper named The Walrus, and the peer mentoring club. He enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, volunteering, and going to sports games. Soon he hopes to study communications in college. 


The book, Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story, by Stacy Padula is an exhilarating, page-turner with valuable lessons for all.  Taylor Dunkin does everything in his power to escape from a mafia drug dealing association.  Unfortunately for him the tension between the police and his boss’s crime ring is rising and the blame needs to be put on someone.  A great kid, who is sober now for 6 months, Taylor is the perfect candidate to blame.  Him, his friends, and his family could be in severe danger.  Taylor works through many dilemmas and without the help of his brother Marc’s friends, the FBI, and people involved in the drug dealing business, he could easily be killed.  Now, more than ever, Taylor regrets the decisions he’s made in his past five years.

Taylor and other kids from Montgomery start to realize how bad the effects of using drugs can be.  What can start out as just being a way to have fun can turn into supplying drugs for younger kids, getting a serious addiction, and ruining the life that you had.  Taylor and other characters start to show their strength in standing up for themselves and others when it comes to drugs, showing us the mature and committed side of Taylor’s personality.  Characters also learn the importance of trusting in God’s plan for you when things are not working out.  Overall, I would rate this book a 5/5.  I was deeply invested in the layers of drama between characters.  Countless times some characters knew something that others didn’t, building serious tension and intensifying the reader’s experience.

Synopsis

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.

My Hopes for the ‘Gripped’ Series Characters

Written by Nasin Groshek, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Nasin is a senior at Rising Tide Charter Public School, a college preparatory regional high school located in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  He enjoys travel, boating, photography, nature, volunteer work, and spending time with family and friends.  Nasin is a member of both the Community Action and Eco Clubs at Rising Tide.  He is also the founder of the Business Club at Rising Tide and looks forward to studying business in college.


After reading Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story, Nasin Groshek was asked a series of questions about the main characters…


In Gripped Part 6, what do you hope happens to…

  1. Taylor

I hope that Taylor helps to bring the Bilotti crime family down and can resume his life without living in fear. I also hope that Taylor can continue his college career and return to the football field.

  1. Cathy & Chantal

I hope that Cathy and Chantal continue to repair their relationship. You would think Cathy would no longer feel dead inside if this relationship with her twin sister was restored.

  1. Cathy & Jason

I still think Cathy should be in a relationship with Marc. I would be concerned that a relationship between Cathy and Jason could spin out of control resulting in drug addiction for either Cathy or Jason. I understand that Marc was partly trying to fix the damage caused by both Taylor and Luke to Cathy and that Marc will be off to college soon.

  1. Luke & Missy

I do not think that Luke and Missy should be together. Luke is a people pleaser, and Missy likes to party. Luke is at the point where he no longer wants to use drugs or distribute drugs to his friends. Luke now understands that he is not helping his friends by supplying drugs.

  1. Jordan & Marc

At one point while reading the series, Marc Dunkin was one of my favorite characters. But unfortunately, Marc is no longer a favorite character considering his hate for his brother Jordan. In his video to the family, Taylor even tells Marc not to let his anger keep him from working things out with Jordan. My favorite character now is Jordan. Jordan was introduced to the reader as the black sheep of the Dunkin family and as a person known for taking nothing seriously in high school. Even Jordan’s father now realizes what a wonderful young man Jordan has become since high school. 

How has your opinion of the characters evolved overtime?

  1. Taylor

My opinion of Taylor has not changed. I am still rooting for Taylor to put his life back together and to remove himself from the horrible predicament he finds himself in with the FBI, the Boston police department, and the Bilotti crime family.

  1. Jordan

Jordan was introduced to the reader as the black sheep of the Dunkin family and as a person known for taking nothing seriously in high school. I think Jordan has matured a lot since high school and is very serious about his future. Even Jordan’s father now realizes what a wonderful young man Jordan has become since high school.

  1. Marc

At one point while reading the series, Marc Dunkin was one of my favorite characters. Marc now is no longer a favorite character considering his hate for his brother Jordan. Taylor in his video to the family tells Marc not to let his anger keep him from working things out with Jordan.

  1. Missy

Missy is portrayed as a partier and possibly even a person who uses Luke for his drug connections and money. Unfortunately, my opinion of Missy has not evolved over time.

  1. Luke

At specific points in the series, Luke frustrated me because he supplied drugs and alcohol without acknowledging the negative consequences to his friends and classmates. However, Luke now realizes the damage he has done by providing classmates and friends with drugs and alcohol. As a result, my opinion of Luke has evolved positively.


Synopsis

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.

Reviews

“Invigorating, engaging and a must read. The characters in The Gripped Series diligently tackle the essence of forces that can limit greatness within.” – LaTonya Pinkard (Ms. P) from Netflix’s Emmy Winning Docuseries “Last Chance U”

“Gripped is perfect for Middle School and High School students, as well as their parents. It is an educational, yet entertaining narrative that highlights the growing problem of addiction in the U.S and just how easy it is for harmless fun to take a dark turn, regardless of who you are or where you come from.” – Elizabeth Harvey, Emerson College

“I recommend Gripped to young adults in middle school and high school because this book addresses topics such as relationships, drugs, and alcohol that most books recommended for this age group don’t go into enough detail about. With the opioid epidemic at an all time high, it is important that teens educate themselves on the dangers that drugs bring, and this book does a great job at providing an in depth look on the consequences of getting involved in dangerous, illegal substances. I would also recommend this book to parents of teens so they can get a better understanding of how to deal with issues regarding addiction, or simply just issues regarding their children’s relationships. By reading about this story of young adults who got caught up in drugs, parents and teens will be better informed and will hopefully be more comfortable to have open conversations about the topic.” – Sophia Coggeshall, University of Notre Dame

Here’s Why ‘Gripped’ Should be Read in High Schools Across America

| Written by Julia Trenholm, Plymouth, Massachusetts |

Julia Trenholm is from Plymouth, Massachusetts where she attends Plymouth North High School. Her favorite subjects include marketing and science. Some of her hobbies include cheerleading and singing in the Northern Lights A cappella group. Julia would like to study communications in college.


As a senior in high school, I believe that Gripped Part 2: Blindsided by Stacy Padula is a great way to educate young adults to make thoughtful decisions through common teenage social situations. This includes drug and alcohol abuse, a topic that many school systems seem to want to avoid addressing.

Often school administrators and parents are worried about these scenarios happening to their own kids and will try to shelter them from being exposed to these situations in books. Instead of just telling them “drugs are bad for you,” educators and parents need to encourage students to properly educate themselves on the topic by allowing them to read this great book series. Through Gripped, kids will gain an understanding of how drugs are more powerful than they may think.

The truth is, kids will learn so many significant lessons from characters such as Chris Dunkin, Cathy Kagelli, Jason Davids, and Taylor Dunkin. Some examples include how drugs and substances affect your relationships with others, the lead up to an addiction, and how it can completely take over your personality. Mental health, honesty in relationships, and the importance of surrounding yourself with good friends who truly care about you are all themes in Blindsided. This book, and the entire Gripped series, will help kids navigate through society today and not be afraid to reach out for help or have honest conversations with the ones they trust and love. After reading this book, kids will understand the many causes and decisions that lead up to an addiction. It is a cautionary and engaging tale that teens will relate to and enjoy from cover to cover. It is my hope schools will implement this series in some way so more kids will learn the valuable lessons shown through the compelling characters and suspenseful plot line.

Synopsis

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

Fourteen-year-old Chris Dunkin is known for being the life of the party and everyone’s favorite friend. Despite his amicable nature, he carries around deep-seated pain from his childhood that he frequently numbs with alcohol and drugs.

After hosting a party, Chris awakes with a strange vibe running through his body and no recollection of the previous night. When he learns the horrifying truth of what his night entailed, the trajectory of his life is changed forever.

Gripped: a 5-star Read for Teens

| Written by Laurie O’Sullivan, Dover, Massachusetts |

Laurie O’Sullivan is a 17 year old senior at Dover Sherborn High School where she likes to be involved with sports and extracurriculars. She is part of the National Honor Society and tutors high schoolers who want extra help in biology. She runs on the track team, leads a service club, is part of a women’s group, and is involved with an environmental club. In her free time, she likes to read, listen to music, and play the piano. Her love for spending time with kids is shown through her summer job as a camp counselor and her regular babysitting hours. She hopes to study communications in college and travel a lot in the future!


5 Stars

Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told, by Stacy A. Padula, is a perfect quick-read for teenagers and young adults. This book follows the story of students at Montgomery Lake High School as they navigate the drug deals that begin to run rampant throughout their community. Each character has their own response and role in the situation. Relationships form and break as tensions rise in Montgomery, and this book captures it all perfectly.

As a teenager myself, this book sheds light on things that are more common in high schools all across the country, and world, than you may think. No matter who you are, you are guaranteed to find a character that you relate to, and you will become deeply invested in each of their lives. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a perfect blend of intensity and drama, and is open to reading about the harsh reality of our world today through the perspective of those going through it. 

Synopsis

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.

Complex Relationships Make “The Fallout” a Y.A. Page-turner

Written by Sarah Parrish, Dover, Massachusetts

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. 


Gripped Part 3: The Fallout by Stacy Padula, is a page turner that will allow teens and adults to understand the harmful effects of drug addiction. The story follows many different high school relationships and how drug addiction can ruin relationships of all types. The readers learn more about Taylor Dunkin’s struggle to get back on the football field and transfer to a school where he will excel academically and athletically. Meanwhile, Chris and Jason, two high school friends, decide to experiment with drugs the night before the first day of high school while sneaking out. Chris’s prior experiences with drugs makes this a problem for him, his new, and his old relationships. 

Meanwhile, we learn that Cathy works to repair her relationship with her sister and lets her back into her life. However, this was a result of Cathy’s trip to the police station with Chantal’s ex-boyfriend’s new girl, Alyssa. However, beforehand they dramatically and unexpectedly broke up. This tangled web of connections leaves readers to wonder where these relationships will end up in the future and how drugs will play a part to damage them. I’m excited to read Gripped Part 4 to find out!

Synopsis

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

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Meanwhile, Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost-one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger. Taylor is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.