Posts Tagged ‘teen book series’

Montgomery Lake High #5: The Forces Within
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After being trapped inside his own body, unable to communicate with anyone but his own thoughts, Andy Rosetti finally wakes up from the coma that controlled his life for one month. But upon awakening, Andy finds himself and his friends in an unfamiliar setting: a mansion riddled with secrets and supernatural forces. As his friends fall prey to the entities encompassing them, Andy must figure out if the darkness lies within the mansion’s walls or within the people surrounding him.

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Kelly Mitchell, Newton Country Day Class of 2018

After reading and reviewing Montgomery Lake High #2: When Darkness Tries to Hide, Kelly was asked to share her honest opinions about the story and characters in the below Q&A:

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

In the first book, the reader gets only a surface level view of Jason. I saw him as a classic popular boy whose only priority was partying. After reading “When Darkness Tries to Hide” I have a new understanding of the character and have grown to deeply sympathize with him. The grief Jason displays following the accident and the determination he had to go outside his comfort zone and help arrange the prayer service for Andy revealed that deep down Jason is a good kid. Despite his flaws of partying and his poor judgement in girlfriends, by the end of this book, I saw Jason as a smart, caring, and loyal friend

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

One thing I learned is that we should stay loyal to our friends. Chris doesn’t realize it, but by focusing himself and distancing himself from Jason, he has greatly hurt his friend. Once Chris finally begins to encourage Jason to make the same positive changes he did in his life, the power of friendship truly reveals itself. Chris supports his friend and is able to forgive the cruelty Jason has inflicted during the past two months. Their relationship teaches me the importance of never giving up on people we care about.

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?

For the past few years, Jason has surrounded himself in darkness: drugs, alcohol, and people who take part in even more immoral activities than he does. Encompassing himself in this darkness only gets him further into it. The day he spent with Chris planning Andy’s service was the first time in a while any light had been brought into his life. Jason witnessed his friend’s newfound strength and was moved by the kind words he received from Mr. Kagelli, Rachel, and the Pastor. In the end, with new hope and positive surroundings, Jason takes his first step down the righteous path by reading the bible. By being productive and working to do something kind for Andy, Jason and his friends are able to start to bringing some light into a dark and scary situation.

What positive message does this book convey to readers?

I think an important message in “When Darkness Tries to Hide” is that it is never too late to make a change. Jason not only experiences forgivness from his friend Chris, but also learns about the never ending forgiveness of God from Pastor Mark. The Pastor shares his story of straying from a moral path at times and explains the healing power of God. Jason is inspired by this and his new hope causes him to confess his sins to the Pastor. Despite being so deep into the party scene, Jason—like Chris—realizes he still has the opportunity to try and be a better person.

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Chris Dunkin believes that his former best friend, Jason Davids, is blazing a trail of destruction. After a tornado wreaks havoc on Montgomery, a twist of fate brings Chris and Jason back together as they try to save a classmate who is gravely injured from the storm. The tempest, however, brings more than wind and rain to Montgomery.

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In preparation for an upcoming interview with Doug Llewelyn

Why do you feel your books are necessary for young adults to read?

My books share the raw truth about opioid addiction, as well as other substances, in a realistic and relatable way. Drugs pose an empty promise for fulfillment, which often leads to self-destruction and hurts many others in the process. I want to help kids avoid the heartache that goes along with substance abuse and find positive/beneficial outlets for their energy. There is an immense amount of social pressure on teens today. Between social media and technology, they are constantly connected and can easily lose touch with themselves. They face enormous pressure to fit in with their peers and often lose themselves in the process.

What are the main messages you try to convey in your novels?

Turn to God, not drugs, for fulfillment

Instead of trying to fit in with your peers, get to know yourself and your passions: be authentic

Are you working on a book now?

Yes, I am about 30,000 words into a novel that heavily focuses on opiate addiction. It circles back to the root of the problems in Chris Dunkin’s life—his older cousins. The story starts off right where The Aftermath leaves off, but it does a lot of time traveling between old and new experiences. This story ties a lot of plot points together that are briefly mentioned in the other books but never explored in-depth. It follows two different characters’ stories and shows, from their perspectives, how they got caught up in drug abuse—which were for very different reasons. I think it is easy for people to cast aside drug users and look down upon them, but the book I am writing shows how easily good people can get caught up in substance abuse. Moreover, it conveys the hope that exists once someone is able to forgive himself and seek sobriety.

Be candid. Tell us about the series…

The Right Person – Chris Dunkin has parents who travel often for business, so he is left in the care of his older cousins who housesit and throw parties. He is exposed to drugs and alcohol at a young age, and it does not take long for him to begin experimenting himself. He then pulls his group of friends into the partying scene, and begins high school as “the life of the party.” But Chris honestly feels lost and is searching for something more than that.

When Darkness Tries to Hide – picks up a month or two after The Right Person leaves off, showing how Chris’ life and relationships have changed. A tornado strikes the town and causes destruction, but ends up teaching an important life lesson to one of the main characters.

The Battle for Innocence – flashes back two years to when Chris and his friends were first exposed to his cousins’ lifestyle. It shows how quickly their innocence was threatened and how easily kids can become desensitized to substance abuse.

The Aftermath – my personal favorite. It follows the quest for self-discovery that one of the main characters, Jason, embarks on. Jason has everything that he thinks will bring fulfillment – high grades, a beautiful girlfriend, popular friends, and every drug that promises enjoyment at his disposal – but he feels empty inside. He knows that something is missing, but he cannot figure out what. After trying to fill the void with relationships, achievements, and substances, he finds himself strangely drawn to a very plain girl in his grade whom he has never noticed. He can’t understand how she can stand for everything he opposes yet possess the very thing he has been searching for all along.

The Forces Within – this is a freaky book. It takes place when the characters are on vacation in New Hampshire and have to seek shelter in an abandoned house. Strange things begin happening, and it becomes apparent that there are supernatural forces at large. The main character is left to figure out if the forces exist within the house or within the people surrounding him.

More to come…

 

 

What has been one of the hardest things to write?

One of the most difficult things I have done as an author, is write a back cover synopsis for my fourth book, The Aftermath. This story is my favorite of all the books I have written, and it has been a continuous challenge to represent 169 pages of my heart and soul in a simple, paragraph-long description. Within the pages of this book exist so many of my own thoughts, discoveries, and realizations that it is impossible for me to convey to readers or listeners the true essence of The Aftermath in any summation. While below is my latest attempt at trying to communicate the main idea of the story, it fails to capture the deep soul-searching, logical analysis, and honest self-reflection that ensues when one sets off on a quest, such as Jason’s, for self-discovery.

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Can faith and reason co-exist? Every day, teenagers are faced with difficult situations that challenge their faith and moral compass. The Aftermath follows a group of students from Montgomery Lake High School, specifically Jason Davids and Jessie Robins. At age fifteen, Jason appears to have it all together: high grades, popular friends, a beautiful girlfriend, and any drug that promises enjoyment at his disposal. Despite this, there is a persistent emptiness inside his heart. After attempting to fill the void with achievements, relationships, and illicit substances, Jason finds himself intrigued by Jessie, a quiet and rather plain girl, who is the daughter of a local pastor. How is it possible that she stands for everything Jason opposes yet possesses the one thing he has been searching for all along?

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Q&A with Kelly Mitchell

Newton Country Day Class of 2018

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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.  

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High School can be a difficult time in one’s life and presents unfamiliar situations and temptations that challenge one’s morals. Parties, peer pressure, and popularity can become an attraction and lead students away from God. The Right Person, by Stacy Padula, tells the story of a group of freshmen at Montgomery Lake High as they confront these same obstacles faced as many other high school students around the world.

The story focuses mainly on Chris: an athletic, partier who has spent the past two years reliant on alcohol and drugs. As freshman year begins, Chris finds himself becoming tiresome of his partying ways and looking for something more. 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.

This book depicts the struggles many kids encounter during their high school years through the eyes of compelling characters. I recommend this book to both students currently in high school and middle schoolers preparing for these tricky years. It is a reminder of God’s presence in our lives and the importance of seeking strength through him in times of uncertainty.

-Kelly Mitchell, Newton Country Day School Class of 2018

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The Montgomery Lake High Book Series

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Written by Charlotte Moynihan

The second book in the Montgomery Lake High Series, When Darkness Tries to Hide, continues the journey of the students at MLH as they venture further into the depths of high school. After following the stories of Chris and Courtney in The Right Person, the focus shifts to Chris’s wayward, childhood best-friend of almost a decade: Jason Davids.

When Jason is first introduced, he is dealing with many of the same challenges that Chris once faced. Already addicted to multiple prescription drugs, Jason has fallen in with a dangerous and unsupportive crowd. A tragic accident points Jason onto a new path, and he begins to realize how manipulative and unkind his companions are. All the while, Jason struggles to reconcile his dark past with his desire for a meaningful life. Throughout the novel, the reader gains insight into Jason’s true personality and the potential he has to be not only a good person, but also a faithful one. However, because of the darkness surrounding him, he struggles to see the benefit of leading any other lifestyle than his current, party-filled one.

I recommend this book to teens and adults. Jason’s struggles are relatable to anyone who has ever deviated from their beliefs or has struggled to make the right choices.

 

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Written by Charlotte Moynihan, NCDS Class of 2018

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. Consumed with the desire to be liked by her new boyfriend Chris and his party going friends, Courtney abandons everything that she once stood for. Chris, on the other hand, begins the story as a diehard party goer and is rarely sober. However, upon reflection on his own life Chris begins to see God in his life again – not through his own actions, but the influence another person has on his life.

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.

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On September 5, 2017, The Forces Within by Stacy Padula rose to the #3 best selling spot on Amazon Kindle for teen books that address substance abuse.

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This paranormal thriller is the 5th book in the Montgomery Lake High book series.

Synopsis

After being trapped inside his own body, unable to communicate with anyone but his own thoughts, Andy Rosetti finally wakes up from the coma that controlled his life for one month. But upon awakening, Andy finds himself and his friends in an unfamiliar setting: a mansion riddled with secrets and supernatural forces. As his friends fall prey to the entities surrounding them, Andy must figure out if the darkness lies within the mansion’s walls or within the people surrounding him.

Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon

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On Sale This Week for Only $3.99 (Kindle)

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$13.00 (Paperback)
Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon