There’s Much to Learn from Chris Dunkin’s Character Arc in “Gripped” by Stacy Padula

Written by Maya Daly, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Gripped Part 3: The Fallout by Stacy Padula gives important insight into the minds of many teens during their high school years. While, oftentimes, the characters are not making the best decisions, it shows that usually these decisions are made worse due to outside factors going on in the teens’ lives. Sometimes I think it is easy to look at a situation and not understand it, but Gripped puts irresponsible actions into perspective when seeing the outside influences that are impacting the kids. For adults especially, this is an educational look into teen life. 

One thing I particularly liked about the approach of Gripped Part 3 was the way that it showed the impacts drugs can begin to have on school when used irresponsibly. After attending a party on the night before the first day of school, the main group of teens face the consequences of their actions and do not get a good start to the first day of high school. This book also shows how drug use can impact relationships, tearing people apart want to avoid being negatively impacted by drugs. Gripped Part 3 shines an important light on the use of drugs and the very real consequences that come with them, going into every avenue from relationships to school. 

In this book, I found Chris Dunkin’s storyline to be the most interesting, as I think that the contrast between his current self in book 3 and who he was in book 1 is very interesting and unexpected. In book 1, Chris is seemingly the “leader” and “bad influence” on the rest of the group, hosting all of the parties and encouraging everyone else to drink and engage in other drugs. Now, he is very mature in the sense of knowing what is best for himself and trying to maintain his sobriety. Seeing the contrast between his personality then and now and how he has been changing has been very interesting to me while reading this book, as well as seeing how some of his friends have now almost switched roles with him. 

Seeing Chris mature throughout the series has been one of the best character development plots thus far. Chris serves to show that even when someone may seem to be “too deep” into drugs or reckless, it is never too late to turn things around. Him taking his sobriety into his own hands and distancing himself from those who negatively influenced him, like Jason, shows how much he has grown as a person and how he has matured greatly. He shows readers that drug dependency can be beaten and that no one is ever “too far gone” to take the journey of sobriety. 

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.

About Maya Daly

Maya is a junior 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. 

Fordham University Graduate Reviews ‘When Darkness Tries to Hide’ by Stacy Padula

Written by Reilly Fournier, Falmouth, Massachusetts

Stacy Padula’s second installment of the Montgomery Lake High (MLH) series “When Darkness Tries to Hide” brings back the beloved characters from book one, while also introducing new characters and new relationships, which only complicate life for the teens of MLH. This book throws the readers completely into the MLH world on a deeper level than ever before and makes for a quick read as you will not be able to put it down!

Some of the same topics of issue, such as drug addiction and social struggles are still relevant in book 2, but we have new characters and personalities navigating these familiar problems. Through this subtle change, Padula is able to maintain the tone and feel of the first book, while also adding a refreshing twist. For example, main character Chris Dunkin has recently discovered a relationship with God that he had been unknowingly searching for, for so long. From this new relationship with God and his church, Chris has become sober and is now acting as a spiritual guide for his best friend Jason, who is just starting the process of overcoming addiction. 

Another obstacle Montgomery Lake must overcome is the tragic injury of Andy Rossetti which leaves some heartbroken, some riddled with guilt, and others questioning everything. Padula expertly expresses how earth shattering such events can be for anyone, especially young people who already feel helpless to their circumstances. Rather than leaving Andy’s fate up to chance, Padula offers young readers hope and opportunities to take action when her characters join together and plan a prayer service for their classmate. Even those who barely knew Andy, and those who aren’t part of the church, step up to help in any way they can. By demonstrating the actions that can be taken in trying times, no matter how small, Padula offers some agency to any reader feeling lost as a result of being affected by tragedy.

I am so excited to read book number 3 and feel like I’ve truly entered the MLH world by continuing to read this series!

Synopsis

Students at Montgomery Lake High believe the ominous clouds and impending storm will only bring a temporary interruption to their regularly scheduled lives. However, when the tempest grows worse and a classmate’s life hangs in the balance, students must pull together to support each other and seek help for their friend. As the lines between cliques dissolve, dark secrets are revealed and hearts are transformed.

About Reilly Fournier

Reilly is a recent graduate from Fordham University where she received her Bachelors of Arts as a double major in English and Communications with a concentration in Film. During her time in New York she held many positions, but the most formative experience was being a Resident Assistant to freshman students. She has an expansive background working in multiple fields such as marketing, film production, and law. When she’s not reading and working on projects, Reilly loves to play soccer, watch Boston sports, and spend time with family. Though she grew up in Central Massachusetts, she currently lives in Falmouth where she is building a life and planning a wedding with her fiancé.

“Gripped 3” Shows Deeper Causes of Teen Substance Abuse Than Many Would Think

Written by Maya Daly, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Gripped Part 3: The Fallout by Stacy Padula is a Y.A. fiction novel about substance abuse and relationships. It shows readers that drug abuse stems from deeper issues within people’s lives—more than just bad influences or hanging out with the wrong crowd. While there are some bad influencers in the series, many times when characters get deeper into drugs is when something bad happens externally in their lives; they cope in unhealthy ways by turning to drugs. One example of this in this series is Jason Davids. When he was upset about his falling out with his best friend Chris Dunkin, he overcompensated for his pain by drinking excessively and using drugs. Though being around the wrong people does not help with drug use, many times it comes heavily into play when something within their lives goes wrong.

So far in the series, female protagonist Cathy Kagelli has been the most intriguing character to me, as she has had the most substantial change in her from the beginning of the series to now. It seems that she has gotten herself into a sticky situation filled with lies and half truths, where she is drifting farther and farther from the morals she once had in the beginning of the series. I am interested to see if she takes the steps to get closer back to her original self, and if so, how she will go about doing so.

While I think that Marc Dunkin will be a good influence on Cathy because of his mainly sober lifestyle, it seems that Cathy still has some unresolved feelings toward Jason, which likely will complicate their relationship. I think that Cathy and Jason have a very good and deep understanding of each other, and in the end, I think that they both do want the best for one another. I am more so rooting for her and Jason, but I think that Cathy could benefit from more time apart from Jason while she tries to stay away from the drugs that she was close to becoming addicted to. In the end, I think that Cathy and Jason will reunite with each other, but hopefully in a healthier way where they both are able to be in a better headspace and away from drugs. 

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.

About Maya Daly

Maya is a junior 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. 

Nasin Groshek Reviews ‘Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told’ by Stacy Padula

Written by Nasin Groshek, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula is a fast-paced, compelling story about substance abuse and how it affects young adults’ relationships and future aspirations. I highly recommend this book to other high school and middle school students since they should easily relate to this story.

Taylor Dunkin was a star athlete in high school with aspirations of becoming an NFL player but now finds himself a person of interest in a police investigation of a notorious crime ring. Unfortunately, Taylor became addicted to drugs due to an injury and then became a drug dealer to support his drug habit. Taylor desperately wants to resume his football career and repair his relationship with family and friends. I am excited to read the next book in the series. I will be rooting for Taylor!

About Nasin Groshek

Nasin is a junior 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.

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.

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

“Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy A. Padula is a fast-paced and complex novel perfect for tweens, teens, and parents that is hard to put down. The many different story-lines are captivating and make you want to read the entire book in one sitting.” – Kate Nally, Boston College

“Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula is book that I could not be put down due to its unique character web and thorough storyline. It addresses the problem of addiction within teenagers from a variety of situations, such as affecting a potential professional football player named Taylor Dunkin. This book is a quick read that is perfect for middle school and high school students, while also being very applicable to adults wanting to know more about teenage drug abuse. This book introduces the consequences that come with taking drugs, and this could hopefully reduce the likelihood of students utilizing drugs throughout their education. I loved this book both because it was powerful and thorough, yet easy to follow.” – Kyle Banker, University of Miami

“Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula quite literally ‘grips’ the reader into the story, resulting in the inability to put the book down. It transports readers to the mysterious, yet intriguing realm of young adults, teaching valuable lessons in a journey through the pages.” – Olivia Syat, University of Illinois

“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

Y.A. Fiction Novel Expertly Juxtaposes the Internal & External Struggles of Being a Modern-day Teenager

Written by Reilly Fournier, Falmouth, Massachusetts

In the premiere of the series “Montgomery Lake High: The Right Person,” author Stacy Padula expertly juxtaposes both the internal and external struggles of being and becoming a modern day teenager.

From addressing a growing drug epidemic amongst this generation to opening the door for conversations about self-reflection and development/maintenance of a religious or spiritual relationship with God, Padula doesn’t shy away from the real everyday battles young adults are currently facing.

The story is packed with comical references and details that will make any teen blush from relatability. Small inclusions such as references to needing a “bus note” from a parent to see a friend after school and traveling as a convoy to retrieve food from the lunch-line demonstrate Padula’s insight into the realities of high school life. But, amongst the finer details, her story also offers a critical perspective to parents of how teenage-dom has changed with the new generations. (And how it, in some ways, hasn’t changed at all!) 

This first installment of the Montgomery Lake High series easily earns a 5 star review. The variety of characters, with overlapping friendships and familial ties, allows any reader to find familiarity and comfort in one character, while also being challenged by the perspective of another. I cannot wait to continue reading this series and more books by Stacy Padula!

Synopsis

Growing up in the shadow of two NFL-destined cousins, Chris Dunkin has high hopes for his own future in football. However, a drug addiction threatens to destroy everything he has worked hard to attain. When Chris meets Courtney Angeletti–the mayor’s straightedge Christian daughter–he believes she could be the source of inspiration he needs to overcome his destructive lifestyle. Courtney, however, has other ideas.

The desire to rebel has been tugging on Courtney’s heartstrings for some time, and Chris’s “bad-boy” reputation draws her to him like a moth to a flame. After all, he is a central part of the most popular clique in her high school. Will Chris pull Courtney away from her faith or will Courtney inspire him to overcome his addiction?

About Reilly Fournier

Reilly is a recent graduate from Fordham University where she received her Bachelors of Arts as a double major in English and Communications with a concentration in Film. During her time in New York she held many positions, but the most formative experience was being a Resident Assistant to freshman students. She has an expansive background working in multiple fields such as marketing, film production, and law. When she’s not reading and working on projects, Reilly loves to play soccer, watch Boston sports, and spend time with family. Though she grew up in Central Massachusetts, she currently lives in Falmouth where she is building a life and planning a wedding with her fiancé.

A Fascinating Page Turner with an Important Message for Teens

Written by Maya Daly, Duxbury, Massachusetts

Stacy Padula’s Gripped Part 3: The Fallout is a captivating story, following the plot of teens on their journeys to sobriety or falling deeper into drug use. This story continues with the main characters of the past two books now coming up on their freshman year at Montgomery Lake High, all while they struggle with drug use, drama, and moral conflicts. The combination of some characters who begin to see the flaws with their drug-entangled lives and others who are uncontrollably spiraling down the path of drug use makes for another page-turning book in this series. 

Along with being an alluring story, Gripped Part 3 is also a very important story, as it deals with the issues that drugs bring into many people’s lives. This story is an important one for both teens and adults to pick up, teaching lessons on the impacts of drug use from the perspectives of many very different people, showing how drugs can influence the lives of anyone. This story is both a fascinating page-turner, while also being another informative and important story, making for a great addition to the already exceptional series! 

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.

About Maya Daly

Maya is a junior 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. 

Teen Novel Educates Young Adults About Substance Abuse Through Compelling Characters

Written by Nasin Groshek, Plymouth, Massachusetts

As a young adult, the reality is that we all are exposed to drugs and alcohol in some way and often experience peer pressure to participate. Young adults should relate to Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula since it shows the social interactions between the characters in the story and how the different characters are affected by drugs, alcohol, and gossip. Many of the characters in the story are similar in many respects to my friends and classmates. Therefore, I recommend that all middle school and high school students read Gripped Part 1. This book addresses the realities of drug and alcohol abuse and the negative consequences to young adults of such drug and alcohol abuse through middle school, high school, and college. This book effectively educates young adults about drug and alcohol abuse through interesting characters and a compelling story.

I enjoyed the very realistic social interactions between the various characters in the story. The story goes into great depth describing these social interactions and the peer pressure that most young adults experience today. The story closely examines the relationships amongst young adults. The message of Gripped is that substance abuse can have severe consequences on the future of young adults and their relationships with family and friends. Through a compelling cast of characters and story, the book reinforces the devastating consequences of substance abuse. The book demonstrates how early participation in drugs and alcohol can potentially negatively change the future and relationships of young adults.

About Nasin Groshek

Nasin is a junior 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.

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.

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

“Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy A. Padula is a fast-paced and complex novel perfect for tweens, teens, and parents that is hard to put down. The many different story-lines are captivating and make you want to read the entire book in one sitting.” – Kate Nally, Boston College

“Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula is book that I could not be put down due to its unique character web and thorough storyline. It addresses the problem of addiction within teenagers from a variety of situations, such as affecting a potential professional football player named Taylor Dunkin. This book is a quick read that is perfect for middle school and high school students, while also being very applicable to adults wanting to know more about teenage drug abuse. This book introduces the consequences that come with taking drugs, and this could hopefully reduce the likelihood of students utilizing drugs throughout their education. I loved this book both because it was powerful and thorough, yet easy to follow.” – Kyle Banker, University of Miami

“Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula quite literally ‘grips’ the reader into the story, resulting in the inability to put the book down. It transports readers to the mysterious, yet intriguing realm of young adults, teaching valuable lessons in a journey through the pages.” – Olivia Syat, University of Illinois

“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

Q&A with Megan Farinacci on Stacy Padula’s ‘Gripped’ Characters

Written by Megan Farinacci, Medfield, MA

After reading Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors, Megan Farinacci, a senior at Newton Country Day School, was asked to share how her opinion of certain main characters has changed throughout the series.

Jordan Dunkin

I have come to realize that Jordan is very trustworthy and cares a lot about those around him. Gripped 4 shows his true self, whereas I feel like in previous books we only knew him as Marc’s enemy and a date rapist. Overtime, I have come to realize that Marc and Jordan are more similar than they think; they both want to help their loved ones get clean and would do anything for their families. 

Taylor Dunkin

Gripped 4 uncovers more on Taylor’s mental health. I no longer see a villain; I see a broken and lost college student who is trying to navigate his way out of his drug addictions. He cares more about his family than himself and wants to do anything to make them proud of him again.

Jason Davids

Gripped 4 revealed Jason’s ugly side. I used to give Jason the benefit of the doubt for how caring he was towards his family and friends, but everything seems to be falling apart with him. He only cares about drugs and doesn’t realize how bad of an addiction he has. He is harming his relationship with Cathy because of it.

Luke Davids

Throughout Gripped 4, Luke is so worried about himself and his drug business. He is worried that his girlfriend is using him for drugs, and he has fallen into the wrong crowd. He himself doesn’t seem to be abusing drugs, which frustrates me because he is causing so many other characters to abuse drugs. 

Cathy Kagelli

In Gripped 4, Cathy made a plethora of bad decisions to make those around her happy. I feel bad for her. I see how lost she is in her relationship with Jason. She is trying so hard to ween Jason off of drugs but ends up harming herself in the long run.

Synopsis

After spending her first month of high school grounded, Cathy Kagelli is finally allowed to socialize and uncover what her boyfriend, Jason Davids, has been up to without her. When Cathy realizes Jason has been experimenting with a variety of drugs, she devises a plan to save him from himself… but she just may lose herself in the process.

Meanwhile Taylor Dunkin finds himself playing a game with even higher stakes because his life, his reputation, and the safety of everyone he loves are all on the line. Taylor’s two younger brothers, Jordan and Marc, have been at odds for years, but they are brought together to decipher the mysterious clues Taylor is leaving regarding his whereabouts. As secrets are revealed, the Dunkin boys’ relationships will be changed forever. In Taylor’s weakest moment, he made a deal with the devil, and now there is a reckoning. But who will pay the price?

Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman Developing TV Adaptation of Stacy Padula’s ‘Gripped’ Book Series

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 of Netflix’s Emmy-winning series Last Chance U

“Stacy Padula’s masterful control of a bifurcated storyline keeps the reader intrigued in two chronologies of events. The characters grow richer with each passing novel, as the depth of relationships between them approaches reality.” – Mackenzie Wells, University of Georgia

“This book is perfect for teens and their parents as it offers unique perspectives on complex issues that teens face today. Teens and parents can learn from this book as it offers insight into the difficulties one may find navigating through high school or parenting a teen through high school. Overall, Gripped 4 was a fascinating read that leaves so much to be answered in Gripped 5. I would give this book a 10/10 and would encourage all teens and their parents to pick up this book along with the entire Gripped series.” Michael Farinacci, University of Notre Dame

“This novel is an engaging and meaningful read, ideal for high school freshmen, while also being very applicable to adults wanting to know more about teenage drug abuse. Gripped Part 4 displays the many drawbacks of taking drugs, including losing friends, girlfriends, and your thoughts on your own life. As a result, Padula effectively shows the extreme efforts needed to begin overcoming an addiction in order to begin a new life; this is shown to be very hard to complete. This would hopefully influence all young adults to avoid using drugs in order to prevent going through this troublesome process, and to avoid losing the trust and relationships with loved ones and friends.” – Kyle Banker, University of Miami

About Megan Farinacci

Megan is a senior at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. She is a member of the Varsity Cross Country and Varsity Lacrosse teams at NCDS. She also plays club lacrosse for Mass Elite. She is involved in her school’s health science, yearbook, and running clubs. She has a passion for art and is currently studying 2D design. Megan also enjoys traveling. Over the summer, she traveled to Guatemala with School the World where she helped build a school for a community in need. Her favorite subjects are science and English. She plans to study science or nursing in college. 

Newton Country Day Senior Reviews ‘Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors’ by Stacy Padula

Written by Megan Farinacci, Medfield, MA

Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors by Stacy Padula is filled with a series of plots and perspectives that give insight to teens and parents. In this Y.A. novel, we see many relationships ruined, and new characters fall into a bad path with drugs. We also start to see new characters’ perspectives that we have not seen in previous Gripped books. I highly recommend this book to any and all readers. It is thrilling, exciting, dramatic, and will have you hooked.

The author’s ability to seamlessly connect several plot lines is unlike anything I have read. Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors is the best one yet, and I cannot wait to read Taylor’s Story next.

Synopsis

After spending her first month of high school grounded, Cathy Kagelli is finally allowed to socialize and uncover what her boyfriend, Jason Davids, has been up to without her. When Cathy realizes Jason has been experimenting with a variety of drugs, she devises a plan to save him from himself… but she just may lose herself in the process.

Meanwhile Taylor Dunkin finds himself playing a game with even higher stakes because his life, his reputation, and the safety of everyone he loves are all on the line. Taylor’s two younger brothers, Jordan and Marc, have been at odds for years, but they are brought together to decipher the mysterious clues Taylor is leaving regarding his whereabouts. As secrets are revealed, the Dunkin boys’ relationships will be changed forever. In Taylor’s weakest moment, he made a deal with the devil, and now there is a reckoning. But who will pay the price?

Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman Developing TV Adaptation of Stacy Padula’s ‘Gripped’ Book Series

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 of Netflix’s Emmy-winning series Last Chance U

“Stacy Padula’s masterful control of a bifurcated storyline keeps the reader intrigued in two chronologies of events. The characters grow richer with each passing novel, as the depth of relationships between them approaches reality.” – Mackenzie Wells, University of Georgia

“This book is perfect for teens and their parents as it offers unique perspectives on complex issues that teens face today. Teens and parents can learn from this book as it offers insight into the difficulties one may find navigating through high school or parenting a teen through high school. Overall, Gripped 4 was a fascinating read that leaves so much to be answered in Gripped 5. I would give this book a 10/10 and would encourage all teens and their parents to pick up this book along with the entire Gripped series.” Michael Farinacci, University of Notre Dame

“This novel is an engaging and meaningful read, ideal for high school freshmen, while also being very applicable to adults wanting to know more about teenage drug abuse. Gripped Part 4 displays the many drawbacks of taking drugs, including losing friends, girlfriends, and your thoughts on your own life. As a result, Padula effectively shows the extreme efforts needed to begin overcoming an addiction in order to begin a new life; this is shown to be very hard to complete. This would hopefully influence all young adults to avoid using drugs in order to prevent going through this troublesome process, and to avoid losing the trust and relationships with loved ones and friends.” – Kyle Banker, University of Miami

About Megan Farinacci

Megan is a senior at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. She is a member of the Varsity Cross Country and Varsity Lacrosse teams at NCDS. She also plays club lacrosse for Mass Elite. She is involved in her school’s health science, yearbook, and running clubs. She has a passion for art and is currently studying 2D design. Megan also enjoys traveling. Over the summer, she traveled to Guatemala with School the World where she helped build a school for a community in need. Her favorite subjects are science and English. She plans to study science or nursing in college. 

The Y.A. Page Tuner Parents Should Be Reading

Written by Megan Farinacci, Medfield, MA

As a senior in high school, I highly recommend the book Gripped 4: Smoke & Mirrors, along with any of the books in the Gripped series by Stacy Padula, to parents and teens. Gripped 4 touches on heavy topics like drug and alcohol abuse, which are rarely talked about in schools across the country. It is important for teens to be knowledgeable on these topics and be able to share their knowledge with their peers for the good of their community.

Many of the parents in Gripped 4 are oblivious to their children suffering from drug addictions. Drug addictions are not predictable; we see, first hand, that the characters in Gripped 4 have been able to conceal their struggles with drugs and alcohol from their parents and even their closest friends. Gripped 4 can be eye opening for any parent because, after reading it, they will come to realize how easy it is for children to hide their struggles from their parents.

The Gripped series offers many perspectives on issues that are relevant to both parents and teens. It is important for teenagers to be knowledgeable on the effects of substance abuse and how we can prevent those around us from following a path that many of the characters in Gripped 4 follow. These issues are prevalent in our society, and the Gripped book series offers many different perspectives that relate to real life situations. 

In addition to being informative, Gripped 4 keeps readers hooked through its jumping timeline and numerous perspectives. The constant flashbacks give us a series of information on certain characters we would not get otherwise and help readers form a unique perspective of each character. The book also jumps from character to character, which keeps the readers wanting to turn the page. Learn more about Gripped 4:

Synopsis

After spending her first month of high school grounded, Cathy Kagelli is finally allowed to socialize and uncover what her boyfriend, Jason Davids, has been up to without her. When Cathy realizes Jason has been experimenting with a variety of drugs, she devises a plan to save him from himself… but she just may lose herself in the process.

Meanwhile Taylor Dunkin finds himself playing a game with even higher stakes because his life, his reputation, and the safety of everyone he loves are all on the line. Taylor’s two younger brothers, Jordan and Marc, have been at odds for years, but they are brought together to decipher the mysterious clues Taylor is leaving regarding his whereabouts. As secrets are revealed, the Dunkin boys’ relationships will be changed forever. In Taylor’s weakest moment, he made a deal with the devil, and now there is a reckoning. But who will pay the price?

Emmy-winning producer Mark Blutman Developing TV Adaptation of Stacy Padula’s ‘Gripped’ Book Series

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 of Netflix’s Emmy-winning series Last Chance U

“Stacy Padula’s masterful control of a bifurcated storyline keeps the reader intrigued in two chronologies of events. The characters grow richer with each passing novel, as the depth of relationships between them approaches reality.” – Mackenzie Wells, University of Georgia

“This book is perfect for teens and their parents as it offers unique perspectives on complex issues that teens face today. Teens and parents can learn from this book as it offers insight into the difficulties one may find navigating through high school or parenting a teen through high school. Overall, Gripped 4 was a fascinating read that leaves so much to be answered in Gripped 5. I would give this book a 10/10 and would encourage all teens and their parents to pick up this book along with the entire Gripped series.” Michael Farinacci, University of Notre Dame

“This novel is an engaging and meaningful read, ideal for high school freshmen, while also being very applicable to adults wanting to know more about teenage drug abuse. Gripped Part 4 displays the many drawbacks of taking drugs, including losing friends, girlfriends, and your thoughts on your own life. As a result, Padula effectively shows the extreme efforts needed to begin overcoming an addiction in order to begin a new life; this is shown to be very hard to complete. This would hopefully influence all young adults to avoid using drugs in order to prevent going through this troublesome process, and to avoid losing the trust and relationships with loved ones and friends.” – Kyle Banker, University of Miami

About Megan Farinacci

Megan is a senior at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. She is a member of the Varsity Cross Country and Varsity Lacrosse teams at NCDS. She also plays club lacrosse for Mass Elite. She is involved in her school’s health science, yearbook, and running clubs. She has a passion for art and is currently studying 2D design. Megan also enjoys traveling. Over the summer, she traveled to Guatemala with School the World where she helped build a school for a community in need. Her favorite subjects are science and English. She plans to study science or nursing in college.