We caught up with Rebecca Ronning, a junior at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, New York, to ask her some questions about the first book in the Gripped book series by Stacy Padula. Rebecca was just chosen as the book series’ Intern of the Month for May of 2019! Here is what Rebecca had to say:

Who would you recommend Gripped Part 1 to and why?

I would recommend Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula to any high schooler who may be feeling the inevitable temptations of dangerous party drugs. It is important to recognize the legitimate impact that the things you do in highschool can have on your future, not only on your health but within your professional career. To anybody reading this book, I would say that decisions you make matter in the long run; have fun while you’re young, but refrain from making bad choices.

How do you as a young adult relate to the story?

As a young adult, I often feel that I am invincible—that my young body could handle anything thrown at me. Whether it be intense physical activity or extremely unhealthy food, I rarely find myself pausing to consider my bodies limits and trust that it will always work the way it is now. This feeling of invincibility allows me to relate to the story and gives me a better understanding of what kids like Taylor may have experienced. Luckily, this story also gives me good insight into the fact that I am not bulletproof and that my actions do have consequences.

What did you like best about the story?

The thing that I liked best about this story was the organization of the chapters. The jumping between time periods brought so much clarification to things that I had previously been curious about after reading the Montgomery Lake High series and also provided a feeling of intense suspense for the reader.

What message does this book send to readers?

This book sends the appropriate message that anybody can struggle with addiction, even those who you least expect. Taylor was once an extremely intelligent student, a talented varsity football player, and one of the most highly esteemed boys in the history of Montgomery Lake High. Based on his past, it certainly comes as a shock to hear that someone with so much potential, someone who is so loved by so many, would turn to hard drugs for support. It is important to remind people, those in high school particularly, what signs to look for in their friends who are at risk of harming themselves and their future with inappropriate drug use.

Who do you feel bad for and why?

I feel most bad for Taylor. He got himself caught up in something that is extremely dangerous, and difficult to get out of. His potential to be both a scholar and an impressive athlete were squandered by his drug use, which gives me pity for him.

Who frustrates you and why?

Chris frustrates me the most, particularly in the instance where he is discussing and denying the possible date-rape of Marc’s friend, Michelle. He seems to be ignoring Marc’s input, the person who knew Michelle best, and is rather believing his biased perception of an obviously corrupt person. This frustrates me because I believe that it is extremely important to recognize all sides of a story, especially when it comes to something as serious as rape, and not simply shut down allegations because you think the abuser is “cool.” This is an extremely dangerous logic, and is something that is definitely seen in reality. I have learned to expect more from Chris as a character, so hearing this was particularly frustrating to me.

Who do you most relate to and why?

I believe that I have a very strong connection to Marc in the ways in which he so deeply cares for the wellbeing of his friends and family. He and I are both concerned for the health and safety of those we love, and would go great lengths to make sure that nothing gets too out of hand.

Who do you like and why?

In this book, I really enjoyed Cathy’s character. We begin to see a different side of her than we do in the Montgomery Lake High books, and it is really interesting to see her development and to look at her character with more context.

What storyline do you find the most interesting and why?

My favorite parts of Gripped Part 1 are most likely those that surround Taylor and the police. This crime investigation aspect of the book is something that we have never seen before in the Montgomery Lake High series, and i just could not put it down!

Gripped Part 1 Synopsis

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 knee injury and two surgeries left him sidelined.

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 opiates, cocaine, and benzodiazepines on local college campuses.

When Taylor’s younger brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious drug supply circulating around Montgomery Lake 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.

$3.99 Kindle | $13.50 Paperback

When Darkness Tries To Hide is another book by author Stacy Padula that aims to help teenagers navigate the trials and tribulations of high school. I think that all types of teenagers would benefit from reading this book. Although this book is based on faith and how it can help people escape the painful clutches of addiction, teenagers who are both struggling with addiction or suspect that a friend may be struggling would benefit from the book. Additionally, a main part of this story’s plot is how a community comes together to support a young boy, Andy, who had been injured in an accident; this book would also portray to high schoolers the importance of doing everything you can to help someone that is in need.

One of the main characters in When Darkness Tries To Hide is Jason, who struggles with drug addiction. Throughout the story, Jason feels guilty about what happened to his friend Andy and believes that if he had not been under the influence of drugs when the accident happened, he could have helped Andy. Jason begins to realize that this addiction and the way he’s living is not how he wants his life to be. He gets very little sleep and hangs out with bad people to make him feel better about himself. I gained a lot of respect for Jason as I read this book because he took responsibility for his mistakes, tried to find a way to make a positive change in his life, and realized that he needed to find new people in his life that would support his journey, instead of hanging out with people for popularity.

Written by Jennifer O’Sullivan

Throughout the book, another main character, Chris, tries to help Jason overcome his addiction. Although Jason is rude to Chris and initially doesn’t agree with the goals that Chris has for himself, Chris persists in aiding Jason. Jason had been spreading rumors at school about Chris and trying to ruin his reputation, yet Chris remains the bigger person and stays by Jason’s side for a whole day when he can tell that it is needed. I think that many people could learn from Chris by realizing that sometimes your purpose is bigger than you. Chris could have ignored Jason after Jason said horrible things about him, yet Chris knew that the improvement he could make to Jason’s life meant more than a petty argument. People could also learn that no matter what other people say, you need to continue on the journey that is beneficial to you. Many of Chris’ friends make fun of him for his newfound sobriety or laugh at him when he speaks about God, but Chris ignores the criticism because he knows that what he is doing is keeping him on the right track as a recovering addict.

In the last chapter of the book after Jason has accepted some help, he begins to reflect on everything that he has learned from Chris and Chris’ Pastor, Mark. For such a long time, Jason hadn’t realized how bad of a position he was in, because the people he chose to surround himself with were just as bad. Jason didn’t feel like anything he had been doing was wrong, because it mirrored exactly what the people around him did. He was in such darkness that when Chris tried to become a positive light in his life, Jason couldn’t even recognize it as that and began to harass Chris. Jason thought that because he was popular and went to parties, his life was filled with light when in reality, just the opposite was true. Eventually, after a heartfelt conversation with Pastor Mark, Jason began to realize that he was in darkness and that the lights in his life were kind people, like Chris, who had faith and morals. This realization inspired Jason to wonder if faith could bring light into his life too.

Synopsis

A powerful supercell is spawning above Montgomery Lake High School, while a separate storm is brewing in its halls. The question is—which one should Cathy Kagelli, Jason Davids, and their friends fear the most?

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$3.99 Kindle | $10.50 Paperback

About Jennifer

Jennifer O’Sullivan is a junior at Dover Sherborn High School who enjoys reading, playing the piano, spending time with friends and doing volunteer work. Jennifer leads her school’s community service club, runs on her school’s cross country and track teams and loves to travel, especially to Ireland where she spends time with friends and family.

More Articles by Jennifer:

Why “The Right Person” is a Perfect Book for Teens

“The Right Person” by Stacy Padula Shows How Faith Can Benefit Teenagers

Who would benefit from reading “When Darkness Tries to Hide” by Stacy Padula?

Although this book would be most relevant to teenagers and the struggles they might face in high school, I would recommend this book to anyone who feels that they are struggling with something. Teens and adults alike who are trying to find themselves or answers to their place in life would benefit from reading When Darkness Tries to Hide because it would help them look at their situation from a faith based perspective. This book shows that regardless of how terrible you think your actions or situation may be, there is always hope and the ability to change.

What did you like best about the story?

There were several things that drew me in to When Darkness Tries to Hide. Above all, it was never boring. There were several storylines running simultaneously with many different characters. Each character was facing some type of struggle that kept me wanting to read more to find out their outcome.  It was easy and exciting to read this book.

How did your opinion of Jason change as you read the story?

While Jason begins the story as one of the “bad boys” in the school, he is the character who experiences the greatest transformation. Through the help of his friends and his return to faith, he begins his transformation to becoming the person that he wants to be.

What can be learned by the way Chris treats Jason in this book?

Chris is the catalyst to Jason’s transformation. Chris’ kindness and willingness to reach out to Jason made all the difference.  Their relationship exemplifies the impact we can have on our friends. Even more, it shows how important it is to try to help our friends who seem to be struggling or even just to check in on them when they seem to be down.  The smallest gesture can change someone’s life.

A main theme of this story is the battle between the dark and the light. When one is in darkness, he or she cannot see anything clearly. How does the last chapter relate to the events of the story and the theme of light vs. darkness?

Jason has been in darkness since he began using drugs and drinking and dating Cathy, who leads a similar life. By being surrounded with people who are just as or even more immoral than he was, it was difficult to see any light.  When Chris re-enters his life and he visits the church, meeting Rachel and the pastor’s daughter, his life begins to change. Light slowly enters his life and is the beginning of his transformation.

What positive message does this book convey to readers?

When Darkness Tries to Hide conveys the message that there is hope for everyone. It also reinforces the importance of surrounding yourself with good people who allow you to see the light through faith.

Synopsis

A powerful supercell is spawning above Montgomery Lake High School, while a separate storm is brewing in its halls. The question is–which one should Cathy Kagelli, Jason Davids, and their friends fear the most?

$3.99 Kindle | $10.50 Paperback

About Joanna Dakoyannis

Joanna Dakoyannis is a junior at Dover-Sherborn High School. She enjoys creative writing, traveling, going to the gym, running track for her high school team and loves cheering on the team at school sporting events. She plans to be a science major in college and hopes to eventually attend dental school.

More Articles by Joanna:

An Exceptional Book I Recommend to Teens & Preteens

April’s Q&A-with-joanna-dakoyannis-on-the-right-person-by-stacy-padula/

Jenna Says…

The book Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told by Stacy Padula allows readers to learn from the mistakes of the young and naive characters. It shows how entangled young adults can get in drugs and alcohol and the consequences that come with them. When relationships are ruined due to the mistakes the teens have made, many of them question their actions and if it is worth the loss of friends and family. Gripped Part 1 will show young adults how easy it is to succumb to peer pressure and how it can ruin relationships. This book teaches valuable lessons to anyone struggling with addiction or who is faced with decisions posed by people who may be negative influences. It also shows how faith in God can help to bring teens out of situations if they need someone to turn to.

Who would you recommend Gripped Part 1 to and why?

I would recommend Gripped Part 1 to anyone who is dealing with addiction. Gripped shows how far an addiction can take you, even when you have become sober. It can be an example for anyone who is starting to go down that path and allow them the chance to get out of their situation.

How do you as a young adult relate to the story?

I can relate to this story because as a young adult, I am faced with many difficult decisions. I am constantly given many options in difficult situations, whether they are good or bad. I believe by reading this book, young adults will be able to recognize the consequences that could come from their actions.

What did you like best about the story?

I liked how the story kept going back and forth. It allowed me to tie in the information I knew from the previous series as well as what was mentioned in previous chapters. I believe it all allows the story to come together in the end.

What message does this book send to readers?

Gripped Part 1 informs readers of the dangers of peer pressure. Many of the characters relationships were impacted by the effects of peer pressure. It demonstrates the importance of surrounding yourself with positive people.

Synopsis

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 knee injury and two surgeries left him sidelined.
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 opiates, cocaine, and benzodiazepines on local college campuses.
When Taylor’s younger brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious drug supply circulating around Montgomery Lake 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.
$3.99 Kindle | $11.50 Paperback

In its release week, Gripped was ranked by Amazon as the #1 New Release for Children’s books about drug use on Kindle.

About Jenna Finnerty

Jenna Finnerty is a senior at Norwell High School in Norwell, Massachusetts. She is planning to major in nursing next year. Jenna has accrued years of experience as a cheerleader and gymnast. She also has a passion for traveling and looks forward to studying abroad in college.

Other Articles by Jenna:

Q&A on MLH #1 with Jenna Finnerty

The Right Person by Stacy Padula Accurately Depicts High School Social Challenges

Hope Found in Darkness: A Young Adult Book Review by Jenna Finnerty

Q&A with Jenna Finnerty on Young Adult Novel “When Darkness Tries to Hide”

Montgomery Lake High #1: The Right Person

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 rebellious lifestyle?

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$3.99 Kindle | $11.50 Paperback
View this book’s reviews on Amazon.com

What Readers Are Saying

Joanna Dakoyannis Reviewed The Right Person (Montgomery Lake High Book 1) The Right Person of the MLH series was an exceptional book which I highly recommend to teens and preteens. It was nice to read a book about topics that I could relate to, compared to the typical, heavy English literature books that I am assigned to read in my AP-Lang class at school. I found the book very interesting and I was always wanting to read more. The book provides a very accurate description of the situations that occur in high school and similar to “real life,” I could not wait to see what would happen next. Throughout the book it shows examples of friendship issues, boy issues, and substance issues. These are things that every high schooler can relate to and is also exposed to. The book shows teens how to deal with these issues and eventually emerge with a positive outcome. This book would help preteens to prepare for true high school experiences, instead of the way it is sometimes glamorized in movies or TV shows. There are many different characters in the book and each one is going through something different, whether it is a boyfriend predicament, friendship dilema, or drug problem. This makes the book more understandable to a wider audience, and can help show kids that they are not alone. Additionally, The Right Person, through its them of being influenced, can also teach teens the consequences of our actions. Things we say or do affects other people. Even though sometimes we feel very self-focused, this book shows us that we have the power to influence others and should also be aware of the way others can influence us. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

Rebecca reviewed The Right Person (Montgomery Lake High Book 1) Going into your first year of high school is a historically stressful, confusing, scary experience. Surrounded by new faces, new perspectives, and new ideas, it is easy for a young impressionable teenager to be tempted to go against their morals and change themselves in an effort to fit in and make a good impression on their classmates, even if they know it’s not the right thing to do. The Right Person, by Stacy Padula, perfectly represents this internal conflict by entering the minds of a group of incoming freshman at Montgomery Lake High as they come across new obstacles in their social lives, much unlike what they experienced in middle school. The Right Person is centered around a group of friends, all connected by one thing – a shared love of partying. The story focuses primarily on Chris, an athlete who is known for being the “life of the party,” and his new girlfriend Courtney, a girl with a strong moral compass and strong religious beliefs. This book is a good portrayal of something that most high schoolers experience at one point or another, and it would definitely be helpful for middle schoolers who are currently preparing for their high school experience. The Right Person serves as a reminder that if you just keep being yourself and following your own path, you will find the right person. View on Amazon.com Add a comment View this book’s reviews on Amazon.com

Evelena Tufankjian reviewed The Right Person (Montgomery Lake High Book 1) The book The Right Person by Stacy Padula is one that reflects the hardships and choices throughout high school. The desire to fit in and be popular leads to many poor choices within the book. Obstacles such as partying, drugs, and alcohol use characterize the novel. The characters are faced with choosing whether to party to fit in or follow their hearts and do what they know is right. Throughout the book you meet many characters who are changed and define themselves by the decisions they have chosen to make. The two main characters in the story are Courtney Angeletti and Chris Dunkin. Courtney is first known as being the perfect mayor’s daughter, while Chris is remembered for his crazy parties. This book informs you of the difficulties faced throughout high school and provides many life lessons. This story is relatable to any high school and something many students can connect with. It is a quick and easy read that will have you on the edge of your seat. I highly recommend this to any high school students or soon to be high school students. There are many things you can take away from this book that could even help guide you in your own life. View on Amazon.com Add a comment View this book’s reviews on Amazon.com

Cynthia reviewed The Right Person (Montgomery Lake High Book 1) The book “The Right Person”, by Stacy Padula, is an excellent novel for adolescents going through the stress and pressure of growing up. The book describes the story of a group of teenagers who undergo the numerous changes of a growing teenager. The story focuses mainly on Chris: an athletic, partier who has spent the past two years reliant on alcohol and drugs. He is influenced by his new girlfriend Courtney; a girl who is firm on her morals and opposition to drugs and alcohol. Courtney, however, intrigued by this new surrounding becomes absorbed into the party scene of Chris’ friends and sacrifices her values to fit in. Along with the two main characters, each character experiences a different aspect of growing up whether it is learning how to overcome peer pressure when faced with temptation, choosing between maintaining moral values and being popular, and managing making and losing friends. The book provides an accurate description of how difficult life can be during middle and high school and emphasizes the importance of sticking true to yourself and maintaining the same moral values. This story is a great read for adolescents as it is extremely relatable as they may be going through the same struggles as the characters in the novel. As a teenager, I can personally relate to this story as it emphasizes the struggle of being a teenager with trying to fit in, reject peer pressure, and retain the same moral values. During middle and high school, it is extremely difficult to find friends who will want to be with you if they do not share the same moral standards with you. Additionally, kids in middle and high school can be extremely pressuring when it comes to drinking/ doing drugs, and may only want to be with people who endure in that kind of behavior. As a teenager, part of growing up is learning how to make friends who will accept and you and respect your moral values and it is important not to get too caught up in pressure and stress from social hierarchy. Overall, I highly recommend this novel to any teenagers who may be experiencing these same challenges as they undergo the changes of becoming an adult. Additionally, I feel it would be very beneficial for parents of adolescents to read as well in order to get a sense of the perspective of a child this age, and know how easy it is to slip into the wrong habits. I feel it is extremely relatable and provides a great insight into what life is like during high school, and can provide advice about how to handle specific situations. View on Amazon.com Add a comment View this book’s reviews on Amazon.com

Cynthia Forbes reviewed The Right Person (Montgomery Lake High, No. 1) Starting high school and becoming a young adult can present many challenges and difficult choices. At this time, you are trying to find yourself and choose what kind of person you want to be. The Right Person, by Stacy Padula, tells the story about a group of incoming high school freshman at Montgomery Lake High School. Alcohol, peer pressure, and partying causes lots of drama and decisions throughout the book, which relates to many high schoolers today. The story focuses on Courtney, a religious, good girl who begins to break her morals when she starts dating party-crazy Chris. Although, Courtney’s religious values start rubbing off on Chris, and he begins to want something more than just drinking and partying in his life. The opposite begins the happen to Courtney, as she begins to wonder about the partying lifestyle, and starts to lean farther away from her stern morals.
I recommend this book to pre-teens and teenagers who will begin to go through these troubling years soon. Seeing Courtney and Chris’ point of view on entering high school is a good way to prepare yourself. Sticking to your morals is a huge lesson throughout the novel, as well as trying to change your bad habits when entering a new environment. View on Amazon.com Add a comment View this book’s reviews on Amazon.com

dmoyn reviewed The Right Person (Montgomery Lake High, No. 1) The Right Person, the first book in the Montgomery Lake High book series by Stacy Padula, chronicles the difficulties faced all too commonly by high school students. As the story follows a group of friends – some new, some old – as they navigate the beginnings of freshman year, the reader is quickly drawn to two of the main characters, Courtney and Chris.

All throughout middle school and even the summer leading up to ninth grade, Courtney is a person of integrity and great faith. She has no issue standing up for her religious beliefs and saying no to the peer pressure to indulge in drugs and alcohol. However, like many new high schoolers, Courtney is drawn away from her convictions and swept into the world of popularity and the pressures of fitting in.

This story very accurately details the pressures teenagers face and the feeling that fitting in and loving God may not seem to go together. I think many high schoolers, especially those feeling consumed by the constant social pressure, will be able to relate to the ups and downs the characters in The Right Person face. Their struggles with the sudden prevalence of drugs and alcohol in Montgomery Lake is very real to new high schoolers suddenly faced with these difficult choices. I would recommend this book to all teenagers, but especially those struggling with drug or alcohol abuse or those who feel they might be at risk of future abuse. View on Amazon.com Add a comment

Caitlin Shields – Communications Intern
By Caitlin Shields – Norwell, Massachusetts

I would recommend Gripped Part 1 to people of all ages but especially to those around a similar age to the characters, which is middle school and high school. The book touches on topics that everyone can relate to in some way, making it versatile enough that anyone would be interested in the story.

As a young adult, I can relate to the story because I have witnessed many similar events and situations that the characters are faced with, and I understand the complexity of the change in everyone’s lives during middle school and high school. I particularly related to the huge misunderstanding between Cathy and Chantal, as well as their friends, in the sense that the whole disaster could have been avoided if they had talked it out. It was fascinating seeing all the different influences the characters had on each other, and how someone’s morals can completely change, based on who they are around.

My favorite part of the story was that the characters were finally coming together to learn about all kinds of truths that evaded them, and how they began to understand how the course of their lives could have gone in a completely different direction just because of a few small events.

This book sends the message to the readers that everything is not always what it seems, and there is great value in communication, as well as, looking out for your friends.

Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told
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 knee injury and two surgeries left him sidelined.
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 opiates, cocaine, and benzodiazepines on local college campuses.
When Taylor’s younger brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious drug supply circulating around Montgomery Lake 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.
In its release week, Gripped was ranked by Amazon as the #1 New Release for Children’s books about drug use on Kindle.
$3.99 Kindle | $13.50 Paperback
About Caitlin Shields – Communications Intern

Caitlin is a freshman at Fordham University where she studies Communications. Her favorite hobbies include reading about psychology, photography, fitness, community service, and traveling. Caitlin has been heavily involved with volunteering and raising funds for The Boys & Girls Club of Brockton since age fourteen. Caitlin has a passion for connecting with others and hopes to have a career focused on helping others.

Other Articles by Caitlin:

Q&A with Caitlin Shields on Young Adult Novel “When Darkness Tries to Hide”

Q&A Part 2 with Caitlin Shields on When Darkness Tries to Hide

Why Teens Should Read “The Right Person” by Stacy Padula

Who would you recommend Gripped Part 1 to and why?

I would recommend Gripped Part 1 to any high schooler who may be feeling the inevitable temptations of dangerous party drugs. It is important to recognize the legitimate impact that the things you do in highschool can have on your future, not only on your health but within your professional career. To anybody reading this book, I would say that decisions you make matter in the long run; have fun while you’re young, but refrain from making bad choices.

How do you as a young adult relate to the story?

As a young adult, I often feel that I am invincible; that my young body could handle anything thrown at me. Whether it be intense physical activity or extremely unhealthy food, I rarely find myself pausing to consider my bodies limits and trust that it will always work the way it is now. This feeling of invincibility allows me to relate to the story and gives me a better understanding of what kids like Taylor may have experienced. Luckily, this story also gives me good insight into the fact that i am not bulletproof, and that my actions do have consequences.

What did you like best about the story?

The thing that I liked best about this story was the organization of the chapters. The jumping between time periods brought so much clarification to things that I had previously been curious about after reading the MLH series, and also provided a feeling of intense suspense for the reader.

What message does this book send to readers?

Gripped Part 1 sends the appropriate message that anybody can struggle with addiction, even those who you least expect. Taylor was once an extremely intelligent student, a talented varsity football player, and one of the most highly esteemed boys in the history of Montgomery Lake High. Based on his past, it certainly comes as a shock to hear that someone with so much potential, someone who is so loved by so many, would turn to hard drugs for support. It is important to remind people, those in high school particularly, what signs to look for in their friends who are at risk of harming themselves and their future with inappropriate drug use.

Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told

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 knee injury and two surgeries left him sidelined.

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 opiates, cocaine, and benzodiazepines on local college campuses.

When Taylor’s younger brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious drug supply circulating around Montgomery Lake 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.

In its release week, Gripped was ranked by Amazon as the #1 New Release for Children’s books about drug use on Kindle.

About Rebecca Ronning

Rebecca is a junior at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, New York. As a city kid, some of her hobbies include riding the subway and exploring the city with friends, making all kinds of art and traveling with her family and experiencing new and exciting things along the way.

Articles by Rebecca:

Montgomery Lake High #1 by Stacy Padula Truly Captures the High School Experience!

Q & A on “The Right Person” by Stacy Padula with Rebecca Ronning

Q&A with Rebecca Ronning on Young Adult Lit!

Rebecca Ronning on When Darkness Tries to Hide by Stacy Padula – YA Lit for 2018!

Q&A on When Darkness Tries to Hide with Rebecca Ronning

A Teen’s Opinion of The Aftermath by Stacy Padula

Q&A with Rebecca Ronning – November 2018 (NYC)

Q&A with Rebecca Ronning on Young Adult Thriller “The Forces Within”

Who would you recommend this book to?

I would recommend this book to someone around the age of 13-16. It would be great for them because they would be starting to deal with all of these issues in real life, since they would be going into high school.

How could teens and preteens benefit from reading this book?

Preteens and teens would benefit from reading this book in many ways. One way they would benefit from reading it is that it would give them an insight into what high school is like, in a very real setting. The setting of the book could be any high school in the area in which I live.  It might also help them if they are going through a similar situation as one of the characters in the book, and could help them feel as if they are not alone in dealing with their similar social issue.

What is one major theme you noticed running through the story?

The theme of influence was present throughout the book. Courtney, the main character was never into partying and drugs, but after being exposed to the popular group of friends she was highly influenced to do these things. Another example is how Courtney influenced her boyfriend Chris to steer away from drugs and alcohol, to help get his life back on track. We saw how a person can be influenced and can alternately use their influence.

How do you, as a teenager, personally relate to this story?

I could relate to this book in the sense that many of my friends have had similar issues with boys and I have had to help them. I can also relate to Courtney’s relationship with Julianna, in the sense that my friends have changed since Junior High School. Sometimes it can be a little awkward when having parties and events considering not everyone gets invited, but in the end it works out for everyone. We all change socially in our teenage years because people are interested in different things and have different ideas of what is fun.

Montgomery Lake High #1: The Right Person

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?

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$3.99 Kindle | $11.50 Paperback
About Joanna Dakoyannis

Joanna Dakoyannis is a junior at Dover-Sherborn High School. She enjoys creative writing, traveling, going to the gym, running track for her high school team and loves cheering on the team at school sporting events. She plans to be a science major in college and hopes to eventually attend dental school.

Other Articles by Joanna:

An Exceptional Book I Recommend to Teens & Preteens

Kyle Banker a senior at Beaver Country Day School was selected to read Gripped Part 2 by Stacy Padula before its release date. Kyle was then asked a series of questions about the novel and its controversial content. Here’s what Kyle had to say:

April’s Intern of the Month
Kyle Banker

The drug use and sexual content in this book will surely get it banned from schools, but the topics are too relevant in teenage culture to be ignored. Why do you think this book should be read by kids in middle school and high school?

It is very important for students of these ages to read Gripped Part 2 because it shows the honest truth of the massive drug problem that has risen from this generation. While it may seem from a parent perspective that topics in the novel may be over-exaggerated, that is certainly not the case. In fact, there are many more details in relation to withdrawal and overdose that have yet to be mentioned all because this topic is so thorough and relevant. Overall, while drugs may not be one of the first things you want to teach your child before going to middle/high school, it should be a definite priority considering the significant increase of substance abuse in the 21st century, and Gripped Part 2 effectively puts the problem into perspective.  

What can kids learn from reading this book?

With the topic of substance abuse, I believe that kids are learning in a much different manner. Instead of being educated about the issue, they are instead being warned about the consequences of taking drugs. More specifically, readers will see the drastic changes that drugs can make to a teenager, such as a change of personality, motive, and social interaction. In addition, kids will also be exposed to the processes of withdrawal and overdose, as there are a few characters in the novel who are affected by it. Gripped Part 2 provides a broad overview of the whole topic at hand, and whether your kid is familiar with the drug problem or not, they will learn new content and experience new scenarios within characters in the book.

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

I still really like Taylor in the Gripped Series because it still seems like he has the motive to get clean and make it back to the football field. In Part 2, Taylor was not mentioned being involved with any kind of substance, which means that he is holding true to his goal and really wants to return to his own self. In addition, I appreciate that he is also making this effort in order to help his family and friends, as he understands that his addiction mentally scarred them. In all, Taylor is in a good state of mind, and I hope that he will be able to maintain that mindset until he completes his goals.

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

In my opinion, Chris was exposed much more to the reader in Part 2 of the series compared to the first novel. In this book, I saw a much more considerate and controlled side of Chris. This was shown through his decision with his relationship with Lisa, how he approached the Courtney situation, and his strong motive to become drug-free. It is clear that Chris is slowly turning into a better person, and when he wasn’t in this position, he isolated himself away from his friends in order to further prevent hurting them. Chris looks like he will be in a good influence going into Part 3, but with Jason and Luke still in his circle, who knows whether he will be able to keep this up.

About Kyle Banker – Communications Intern for the Gripped Book Series

Kyle is a Senior at Beaver Country Day School. His favorite subjects are Biology, English, and Entrepreneurship. Some of his hobbies include playing soccer and hockey, volunteering, and being with friends and family. Kyle plans to study Biological Sciences in college. He was awarded Intern of the Month for April of 2019 after author Stacy Padula was utterly impressed with the quality of his work and his dedication to the internship.

Other Articles by Kyle:

Why You Should Read the #1 New Release “Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told”

Kyle Banker on The “Gripped” Characters

A Teen’s Review of Gripped Part 1

Looking Ahead to Gripped Part 2 with Kyle Banker

Article by Jennifer O’Sullivan of Dover, Massachusetts

Jennifer O’Sullivan, Dover-Sherborn Class of 2020

Throughout The Right Person by Stacy Padula, loyalty and faith were common themes in many scenarios. Several characters had certain desires but knew that they had to stay loyal to a person or to a commitment. Additionally, God being a place of strength became increasingly apparent as the story advanced. Characters like Chantal and Courtney relied on faith from the beginning and at first, seemed like the strongest characters. As time went on, Courtney’s faith dwindled, yet she regained it by the end of the book. As Courtney’s faith was recovered, she encouraged Chris to do the same with his faith. In a powerful turn of events, Chris turns to God and trusts in Him. Despite seeming likely to be on a bad path for the rest of his life and being unable to stay sober, Chris gives himself up to God and stays sober from that day on.

As a teenager in a public high school, the stories in this book ring true to my experience. People from all backgrounds and faiths are constantly being put up against the tests of peer pressure and temptation, and many fail. To turn his or her life around, this person must find either a higher power or inner strength in order to combat these struggles.

This book accurately reflects the concept that if a person, especially a high schooler, stays true to a moral set of values, they may overcome struggles with much more ease. There have been many times when all of my classmates or all of my friends are doing something that feels wrong to me and although I could be seen as “lame” or “too worried about it”, I know that it’s wrong and I am proud of myself when I stick with my convictions instead of falling prey to peer pressure.

Additionally, the book shows how important it is to avoid these temptations. Teens would benefit from this book both by being inspired to stay true to themselves and by learning how to face certain obstacles in high school. This book also benefits those who may feel that they are lost or straying from God. This book shows that even the most faithful have to overcome these struggles, and that there is always a way to make things right.

Montgomery Lake High #1: The Right Person

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?

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$2.99 Kindle | $11.50 Paperback

About Jennifer O’Sullivan: Jennifer O’Sullivan is a junior at Dover Sherborn High School who enjoys reading, playing the piano, spending time with friends and doing volunteer work. Jennifer leads her school’s community service club, runs on her school’s cross country and track teams and loves to travel, especially to Ireland where she spends time with friends and family.