Posts Tagged ‘book review’


Written by Charlotte Silverman—Needham, Massachusetts

Montgomery Lake High #2: When Darkness Tries to Hide by Stacy A. Padula is a fantastic read for teens who are experiencing any type of obstacle. Specifically, those who are struggling with a tragedy, and are resorting to drugs or other violent tendencies. Many children struggle with challenges such as sick family or friends, death, or divorce. This novel describes how it is possible to see the light in even the most dreadful of situations and turn them into a positive experience. It also emphasizes the importance of not getting caught up in the negatives of something, and focusing on the positives.

It is also a great influence for teens who are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. It emphasizes the negative effects and challenges of drug abuse and how it can cause something so destructive as fatal injury to you or someone else. The book also describes the possibility of overcoming drug addiction, and how even people who seem so perfect, such as pastors, can struggle with drug abuse. The book emphasizes the message of positivity and seeing the light in a dark situation. It also emphasizes the importance of being proactive and helping others, as well as being a contributive member to your community. Overall, I highly recommend this book for all teens. It provides great insight on appropriate ways to handle difficult times, and the importance of working together through tough situations.



About Charlotte Silverman

Charlotte Silverman is a senior at Needham High School. At school, her favorite subjects include English, Biology, and Computer Science. Outside of school, she runs indoor and outdoor track, and loves spending time with friends and family. She looks forward to overcoming challenges and exploring new experiences during her senior year.

Read more articles by Charlotte:

Good for parents & teens: Montgomery Lake High #1!

About When Darkness Tries to Hide

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?

About Stacy A. Padula

Stacy Padula, a native of Pembroke, Massachusetts, has accrued years of experience working with adolescents. She has been a mentor, life coach, youth group leader, and private educational consultant with extensive experience in the fields of college counseling, tutoring, standardized test preparation, and Christian counseling. She is the Founder and President of South Shore College Consulting & Tutoring based in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Stacy’s first novel, “The Right Person,” was published in 2010. At that time, she was the program director of JBG Educational Group: a company of about thirty educators who work closely with young adults and their families on everything under the academic blanket. She served as JBG’s program director/director of operations for multiple years and helped the founder/president develop many facets of the company, including curriculum. Throughout her time at JBG, she continued working on the Montgomery Lake High book series. Although the series is “young adult fiction,” it is closely based on realistic situations that high school students encounter.

In 2011, “When Darkness Tries to Hide” was published, followed by “The Aftermath” (Padula’s personal favorite) in 2013. In 2014, both “The Battle for Innocence” and “The Forces Within” were released, and in 2015, all five books hit the shelves of Barnes & Noble. For Stacy, it was a dream come true to see her books for sale in the popular, mainstream bookstore.

Stacy wrote the Montgomery Lake High books in the hopes of preparing teens to face the “war zone” that is high school—to help kids deal with the stress and peer pressure, and to encourage them to “steer a straight path, pursue God, and not fall for the false promises of the world.”

In her spare time, Stacy enjoys skiing, going to Bruins games, reading about Psychology, taking her dogs to the beach, and spending time with her family, fiancé, and friends.

Background: Stacy was a Presidential Scholar at Wentworth and on the Dean’s List. She attained tutoring certification in 2009 through The International Tutor Association. Additionally, she was featured in Who’s Who Among American High School Students (2001), Cambridge Who’s Who for Young Professionals (2009), and Marquis Who’s Who in America (2018). She was awarded the Albert Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 and the Academic Achievement Award for having the highest GPA in Miss Teen Southern New England (2000). In 2016, Stacy was selected as a featured author for Barnes & Nobles’ Teen Book Festival, where she signed copies of her novels and interacted with young adult readers.

Stacy’s Mission Statement Video


Stacy Padula’s latest TV interview with BossLady News June 6, 2015


Samantha is a senior at Oliver Ames High School in Easton, MA. Some of her hobbies include cheering for her high school’s team, hanging out with friends, and spending time with her dog Rosie. Samantha’s favorite subject in school is history, and she is excited to start her senior year.

Samantha read “The Aftermath” by Stacy Padula and was asked a series of questions about the novel. Her responses are below.

How has your opinion of Jason changed since reading the first MLH book?

When reading the first book, I didn’t think much of Jason. He was the typical high school drug addict and honestly was made out to seem much worse than his true self. In The Aftermath, you could tell how willing he was to change his ways. Jason did something he never thought he would do. I personally think it was half for himself and half for Jessie. To prove to her and her father how much he has come from where he was. An addict. He even proved himself to me as reader that he is capable of changing and with the help of God anything is possible to him.

Who do you think could benefit from reading this book and why?

There are lots of ways you could benefit from this book. It shows how you can use your faith (like Jason) to overcome certain difficulties you thought you never could. You can fail before you get it right. I learned even in the darkest of times you still have your friends and family to guide you into the right path.

What message does this book send to readers?

This book shows readers that again, it is okay to fail and have dark times. You are allowed to go through the struggle just like everyone else. But, there is a point in time where you need to try and get out of that darkness. Jason has shown us that he is willing to do so with the help of his closest friends. Even if it is something you never thought you were capable of doing, reach out and ask for help.



About The Aftermath

At age fifteen, Jason Davids appears to have nearly any worldly thing that promises enjoyment at his disposal. Despite this, there is a persistent emptiness inside his heart. After failing to fill the void with achievements, relationships, and illicit substances, Jason finds himself intrigued by Jessie Robins: the daughter of a local pastor. How is it possible that she stands for everything his lifestyle opposes yet possesses the one thing he has been searching for all along?


Written by Rebecca Ronning, New York, NY

High school is supposed to be an open space of learning and change, where you are meant to respect and support your peers, no matter what they may be going through. Unfortunately, it is not always like this. People tend to judge others based on prior reputations, social status, looks, pretty much everything you could think of to separate one crowd, one person from another. “The Aftermath” by Stacy Padula represents party animal Jason David’s’ experience with trying to change for the better in the extremely restricting environment of Montgomery Lake High.

In “The Aftermath,” Jason takes a step back to look at his life and analyze what he does on a daily basis. At 15 years old, Jason is a popular jock, who gets good grades, but most importantly, loves partying. He recognizes that this constant party lifestyle is dangerous at such a young age, and decides to make a switch in his mindset. He soon realizes that because of his reputation, some might be skeptical of the possibility of his transformation. Throughout the book, Jason is tested with rumors and temptation, but he comes out victorious and serves as a good example to not only his friends, but to those who didn’t believe he could do it.


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.

About The Aftermath

At age fifteen, Jason Davids appears to have nearly any worldly thing that promises enjoyment at his disposal. Despite this, there is a persistent emptiness inside his heart. After failing to fill the void with achievements, relationships, and illicit substances, Jason finds himself intrigued by Jessie Robins: the daughter of a local pastor. How is it possible that she stands for everything his lifestyle opposes yet possesses the one thing he has been searching for all along?




Samantha is a senior at Oliver Ames High School in Easton, MA. Some of her hobbies include cheering for her high school’s team, hanging out with friends, and spending time with her dog Rosie. Samantha’s favorite subject in school is history, and she is excited to start her senior year.

October 25, 2018—Easton, Massachusetts

1. 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 met with Pastor Mark and I feel like that really turned things around for him. Pastor Mark could relate to the drug abuse and real struggle Jason is trying to get over. By doing this, he is essentially pulling Jason out of that darkness and showing him the light. He is letting him know that it’s okay to be in this dark state but eventually we need to find a cure. Jason has a very good support system and his friends really want to see him do well.

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

Jason to me is the stereotypical high school boy who obviously loves to party. Throughout the book you get to see his struggles which we didn’t get a glimpse at in the first book. He struggles with extreme drugs and you can tell deep down in his heart he is trying to be better. I was hoping he would break it off with Cathy and pursue Pastor Marks daughter. Hopefully that would really get him on the right. His intentions are good and I felt like I had to cut him slack throughout the book.

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

Tough love is the perfect way to describe the way Chris treats Jason. Chris wants to see Jason do good and get him out of the rut he is in. While this might not be a good idea for Chris considering he is only two months sober, he is willing to try and show his friend the light. While spreading the word about Andy’s service, Chris was adamant that Jason stay with him and not “go home to eat and nap” which I personally think that really demonstrated how much Chris cares even if they aren’t as close as they once were.

4. What positive message does this book convey to readers?

I believe the message is that it is okay to be in the darkness like Jason and its okay to have those weak moments. Eventually in life you need to pull yourself through and you don’t even have to do it on your own. There are so many people to turn to such a family and friends. I think every one of the characters was in a dark place at one point in the book. Whether it be dealing with Andy, relationship problems or drug abuse they all struggled. But it makes you think of how many people go through this struggle, knowing you’re not alone, it is a positive thing to me.


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?



Montana Aldridge of Plymouth, Massachusetts is a rising senior at Plymouth North High School. She was asked to share her thoughts on Montgomery Lake High #1: The Right Person – a young adult novel by Stacy Padula. The Montgomery Lake High book series addresses teenage social issues commonly faced in high school and middle school. Topics such as identity, morality, substance abuse, and sexuality are explored in the novels. Currently, there are five books in the series, but Padula is working on a spin off series, set to hit the shelves in 2019.

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

-I relate to multiple characters in this story. I come from a very religious family and have the same morals as Chantal and Courtney (the beginning and end Courtney). I try hard to keep my faith and use it to strengthen me and lead me to make the right decisions, but sometimes my “id” gets the best of me. Having a lot of different types of friends is also hard, because you want to have fun with them and partake in the same activities as them, but when they make bad choices, like Jason and Alyssa, it’s hard.

What do you believe influenced Courtney to turn away from her morals in order to feel accepted?

-I believe Courtney, like all humans, felt the desire to fit in. Some people are lucky enough to be surrounded by genuinely good, humble people with strong morals, while others, akin to Courtney, are not as fortunate and are surrounded by people with little morals. When Courtney decided to break up with Bryan for Chris, I think she was more interested in who would bring her more friends, and who was more popular. While Chris was ultimately attracted to Courtney because of her morals, Courtney was attracted to Chris because of of his social status, which caused Courtney to lose focus of her morals.

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

-Although the next books may shed even more light on this theme, I do think Coming of Age was a major theme throughout the book. All of the characters were faced with decisions that arise as you grow older. It may have seemed that characters such as Jason, Alyssa and Cathy were the older more mature ones on the surface because of how they talked and because of the party’s they attended, but by the end of the book it was clear they had not come of age. Characters such as Courtney and Chris are the ones who truly came of age, when they had the conversation about religion and morals, during their breakup.

Montgomery Lake High #1: The Right Person
As the “life of the party,” Chris Dunkin begins high school with a responsibility to live up to his reputation; deep down inside, however, he wants more than that. When he begins dating Mayor Angeletti’s youngest daughter, Courtney, two worlds collide. The twist ending will not disappoint!




Review of “The Battle for Innocence”

Written by Max Alva – Drexel University Class of 2020
“Jon Anderson’s heart pounded heavily against his chest as he opened Chris Dunkin’s front door. He had walked through that door thousands of times before, but never during one of Taylor Dunkin’s ‘ragers.’ As Jon stepped into Chris’s living room, the odor of beer besieged his nostrils. Chris’s home—the normally calm spot, perfect for watching Patriot’s games—resembled a whirlwind.” In The Battle for Innocence by Stacy A. Padula, a Young Adult/Realistic Fiction novel, the main character, Jon Anderson, is thrown into just what the quote above says: a whirlwind. The story is set in western Massachusetts, and is a back-story to the Montgomery Lake High book series.
Jon, a seventh grader at Montgomery Lake Middle School, is the only Christian in his group of friends. As a result of the wild parties thrown by his best friend’s older cousin, Jon fears his closest friends are getting pulled into a world of temptation. He is stuck in an emotional battle, torn between pulling away from them and staying as a good influence in their lives. “‘God help me,’ Jon muttered aloud, hurdling over a large rock that lay at the edge of the lake. My heart is filled with conflict. I don’t want to separate myself from my friends. I don’t want to give up on them. I know you can change them. I know they don’t have to follow Taylor Dunkin’s path. Please intervene…I can’t abandon them. They need me. I love them. Please put someone in my life that can hold me accountable. I just want a Christian friend who will be able to understand my struggles.”
Meanwhile, Jon’s friend from church, Chantal Kagelli, finds herself in a similar dilemma across town. Chantal, a seventh grader at Sterling Middle School, has more than just one boy chasing after her. While her Class President, Andy, is trying to win her over with notes, cookies, and all the right words, her heart is aching over her interest in Jon. Chantal is petrified of her feelings for Jon, and decides that she should try to fight them off by getting closer to Andy. Despite many warnings from her twin sister that Andy could be a bad influence in her life, Chantal decides that it is more important to shine as a good influence in Andy’s life than to worry about the dangerous path he could take her down. Chantal finds herself in a whirlwind of her own, as she learns a life-changing lesson about the teenage world outside of church! The Battle for Innocence is filled with realistic party scenes and tempting situations that teenagers face during middle school and high school. The way the book is written allows readers to get inside Jon and Chantal’s heads and relate to their internal battles.
Out of all of Stacy A. Padula’s books that I have read, The Battle for Innocence is my favorite. It overflows with valuable background information about the main characters of the Montgomery Lake High series that makes the characters even more relatable and dynamic. I recommend this book to anyone age eleven and up. It has a lot of strong messages about peer pressure and making good decisions. I think anyone who has read the Montgomery Lake High books should read The Battle for Innocence to gain a deeper understanding of how Jon, Chris, and their friends got into so much trouble at such young ages. To learn more about the causes of teenage substance abuse and the gateway to addiction join Jon and Chantal in their battle for innocence.
View Press Release



Review Written by Kelly Mitchell – Newton Country Day Class of 2018

It has been three weeks since a terrible storm left Andy in a coma, and for Jason Davids, nothing has been the same. Jason, the most popular freshman boy at Montgomery Lake High School, recognizes that he needs to make a change in life and give up the partying lifestyle he has been a part of for the past two years. Jason discovers this task is not going to be easy and struggles to turn away from darkness, as he is constantly presented with new temptations. Jason must decide whether to go back into the daze he has been living in or look for a new source of strength to help him win his battle over his addictions.
I would recommend this book to anyone in middle school or high school, as it touches on topics very prevalent to this age group: temptation, gossip, popularity, and prayer. It reminds readers that one’s reputation in high school will be insignificant to the rest of our lives, and that, therefore, people should focus on more important matters such as their relationship with God.

Q&A with Kelly Mitchell

Newton Country Day Class of 2018


Kelly is a very insightful teenager, who has a knack for perceiving underlying meanings and concepts within works of literature. As an author, I am truly blessed to have her on staff as an intern. Kelly is applying to many prestigious colleges this year, and I could not be more proud of her! Below is a short series of questions I asked her to complete about Book #1 “The Right Person.” I hope you enjoy her insight:

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

As a high schooler peer pressure surrounds me in all aspects of life. Whether presented with extremes, like Chris, of drugs and alcohol or something as minor as gossiping, high schoolers are constantly put in situations where they sacrifice morals to fit in. Personally, I resonate most with the concept that who I associate with greatly influences my decisions and behaviors. When sitting with girls participating in gossip, I find it difficult sometimes to not engage. I have learned through my years that it is important to surround yourself with people who share similar morals and values as myself; the same lesson Chris discovers.

What do you believe influenced Courtney to turn away from her morals in order to feel accepted?

Courtney’s desire to fit in with a group of kids whom she perceives to be “popular” causes her to turn from her morals. Her values are no longer a priority to her if they interfere with her belonging with the others. Courtney becomes more focused on how her new friends view her than on staying true to herself. 

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

The significance of friendship is a common theme in the story. The friendships that the characters form in the story greatly influence their decisions. Courtney’s friendship with people like Cathy causes her to go away from her morals. Other friendships, like Chantal and Marielle, strengthens their morals. Friendship is a core part in each person’s life, this is why Julianna feels lost when she loses her friends.

How does it appear God worked to get Chris’ attention?

Chris was becoming tired of the partying scene and began longing for something more. To get Chris’ attention God brought Courtney into his life. Chris is immediately attracted to Courtney and believes spending time with her will help him gain the strength to abstain from sin as she does. This caused improvement in Chris’ behavior but was not a permanent solution because he soon finds himself back into his own ways. It is not until the end when Chris realizes that it is not Courtney whom Chris should attempt to gain strength from but rather, God: the source of Courtney’s virtue.  



After reading “The Right Person” by Stacy Padula, Elizabeth H. of Needham, Massachusetts provided the following feedback:

1. What would you say is appealing about “The Right Person”?

The fact that this is a universal story is the most appealing thing about the book. It also focuses on teenage relationships which are very appealing to middle school and high school aged students. Teenagers often look to movies, tv, and books and apply the lessons or stories they see to their own lives. This book focuses on a love story and various relationships which makes it a very entertaining, yet still educational read, including  elements of both drama and comedy which grasp the attention of the target audience. The character development is also very appealing and creates a story that is able to resonate to teenagers.

2. What kept you wanting to read more?

Every teenager around the world will at some point in their life deal with a moral crisis, such as how to handle going to a party, and this book does a great job at creating a world and characters that are very relatable, drawing the reader in and making them very invested in the storyline. Additionally the detailed descriptions of every character and the setting in which the story takes place add to the intrigue of the entire story and made me want to keep reading more.

3. Who is your favorite character and who do you relate to the most in The Right Person? 

My favorite character is Chris. His storyline and arc was amazing to read and I really enjoyed how he changed his lifestyle for not only himself, but his younger sister, friends and God. He is a caring guy who was lost for a while and who suffered from a lot of pain and the absence of his parents. Despite these challenges he was able to overcome it all, becoming sober for 5 months, and implement change in the lives of others. His drive and compassion was very inspiring to see because many people in his situation could’ve stayed on the destructive path that he was on and their story would not have had the same happy ending.

I identify most with Courtney. Throughout the story Courtney struggles with a profound desire to be popular and her insecurities drive her to put herself into situations that she is not comfortable with and are not true to herself. High school is quite difficult for most people, but particularly for girls and the need to be liked by all, something that I can definitely relate to. Additionally the jealously seen in the relationship between Cathy and Courtney is common amongst teenage girls, especially when a boy is involved. I enjoyed the ending where we discover that Courtney finds herself back with her friends from middle school, the people who genuinely care for her and like to be around her for who she is, not because she likes to party.

4. Write a few sentences explaining how this story accurately portrays the life of a teenager.

This story describes a typical friend group, one that everyone is able to relate to and apply to their own life. Everyday teenagers are forced to make decisions that question and test their morality and this story uses the example of partying to illustrate the different choices one can make and the different outcomes that those choices result in. The temptation of alcohol and drugs is very prevalent in the lives of teenagers and only grows as one enters high school and college. The realistic descriptions throughout the story accurately portray some of the intimate conversations that teenagers have with friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, and family.  


Everyday teenagers are faced with difficult situations that constantly question their faith and moral compass. The Aftermath by Stacy Padula follows a group of students from Montgomery Lake High School, specifically Jason Davids who has a plethora of misconceptions about God and struggles to discover who he is in a world that has already answered that question for him.

The Aftermath is written from the perspective of Jason, allowing the reader to explore his thoughts and feelings in a very detailed manner. The story begins where the last book ended and deals with the events that follow the destructive tornado that touched down in Montgomery leaving one of Jason’s classmates, Andy, in a coma. Jason’s life is forever changed by this accident and the story follows his journey of redemption to deal with the guilt that he feels for leaving Andy helpless in a hospital room.

I recommend The Aftermath to all teenagers, especially those who are currently or have in the past dealt with difficult times or struggled with drugs or alcohol. It is not necessary to read the other books in the MLH series to understand the story. It is very inspiring to read about a teenager that everyone can relate to who deals with societal and personal issues on their path to find God.

– Elizabeth Harvey, Needham, MA