Posts Tagged ‘Young adult books’

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.


Model & Actress Stacey Queripel

February 14, 2018—by Stacy Padula
When my first book was published in 2010, I desired to bring my friends into the project by using their pictures to represent my characters. For four years, I did just that. However, when newer editions of my books were released, my publisher opted to feature models whom their designers could use for covers and book trailers, etc. Today, one familiar face remains: Stacey Queripel.
Stacey, my best friend from college, has a degree in civil engineering and a career in the entertainment industry. She has spent the last ten years building up her resume as a model and an actress. She has modeled for companies such as Reebok, Life is Good, TJX, New Balance, Helen of Troy, Braun, Baby’s Journey, and many others. Below is her updated acting reel.  I am excited to feature Stacey as a character in my life’s work: the Montgomery Lake High Book Series.
In my novels, Stacey portrays Michelle Taylor: a highly respected senior at Montgomery Lake High. Michelle can be found mentoring younger girls and tearing down social walls of division. She is a unifier. Although my characters are not based on real people, Michelle and Stacey’s kind and outgoing personalities align very well. Simply put, Stacey is one of the most loving people I know, and I am blessed to have her as not only a model for my book series, but also a dear friend.

The Main Characters of Montgomery Lake High



Charlotte’s Thoughts:
In “The Battle for Innocence,” the reader gains valuable insight into the background of the Montgomery Lake High characters. This book is important for the audience to understand how many of the relationships in the present day came to be, like Chantal and Jon’s friendship. It is surprising to see how much their relationship has been through from the time that they initially met each other, but it this provides helpful context for the state of their current relationship.
My favorite character in “The Battle for Innocence” is Jon. I was impressed that even as a young seventh grader, he was able to stand by what he believed in. He had the courage to defend his beliefs to his friends when almost all of them didn’t understand or respect his decision. While his faith may have wavered later on, Jon also had the strength to find his way back to his faith. These are a testament to his character.
Written by Charlotte Moynihan – Newton Country Day Class of 2018
Montgomery Lake High #5: The Forces Within

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.


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.  



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


The Montgomery Lake High Book Series


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.


Written by Elizabeth Harvey of Needham, MA (Class of 2017)

Chris: Chris is a compassionate young man, but has always been an unintentional troublemaker since the 7th grade. Chris’s parents both work a lot and frequently travel, leaving Chris in the care of his older cousins who love to party. Because of his parents absence and his family’s actions, Chris became a teen-age alcoholic who abused various hard drugs. He would never intentionally hurt someone, but his addictions became destructive for the people he cared most about. Chris was searching for something to give him fulfillment in his life and make up for the emptiness he felt without his parents being present. Chris had been missing for a long time, but with the help of Courtney and God, he is able to find himself again and re-learn how to enjoy life while sober. It took a while for him to be set free from his demons, but once he did, he became an example of the positivity that spirituality has in a teenager’s life. Chris is now secure, consoling, and humble due to his newfound strength and belief in God. Chris serves as an inspiration and is a very positive example for the reader. I wish Chris was able to see earlier on how destructive his cousin Taylor’s behavior was, but I think it was necessary for his development for Chris to hit rock bottom in order to understand just how big of a problem he actually had. I really love how Chris is able to stick firm with his beliefs and still have respect for other’s choices whom he may not necessarily agree with.  

Courtney: Courtney comes from a world of privilege, being the Mayor’s daughter she has not had to endure many difficulties in her life in that respect; but she still does have her demons. She is still trying to find herself and relies on others for validation of her self-worth. Like most teenage girls, she desperately wanted to be popular and this desire consumed her life and made her lose sight of the girl who wore no makeup and was kind to everyone. Her insecurities also played a major role in why she gave into peer pressure and began getting involved with partying and became focused on her looks—losing the light that she used to radiate. Because of her sheltered lifestyle, Courtney felt a strong desire to rebel and with this rebellion strayed farther from God. She became very disrespectful to her parents, especially towards her mother, and had little care for others. Fortunately, Courtney begins to rekindle her relationship with God and everything suddenly hit her like a ton of bricks. She learned how to be humble and the value of God in her life. She understands that she is no better or worse than anybody and that popularity doesn’t mean anything to God. I really respect Courtney’s evolution and the fact that she was able to admit that she was not a good person and can remedy that, eventually returning to her real friends: Marielle, Julie, Chantal.

Jason: Jason comes from a wealthy family where perfection is expected, especially when it comes to school. He craves love and turns to drugs and alcohol in order to replace the lack of affection he receives at home. Jason is too smart for his own good and because he is so gifted he easily becomes bored and seeks out challenges, which is where he gets into trouble. He is extremely charismatic, quick-witted, and everyone seems to love him. Despite all of this, partying has consumed his life and he acts very destructive towards himself and others around him. He also feels a lot of pressure to keep his image intact and has the ability to flash a fake smile in order to keep the fun times going. Jason lacks confidence and believes he is worthless. Additionally Jason has never been secure in his faith due to the fear from when he was younger that a priest would molest him and as soon as he heard this he felt like everything he had grown up believing was a lie. He is very broken, but after Andy’s accident has begun to reaffirm his faith and is finally ready to once again let God into his heart.

Chantal: I really love the character of Chantal for her consistency and everlasting kindness towards her friends and even people she doesn’t like. She is a genuine person who is honest, loyal, and is not comfortable with the party scene. Her faith is unwavering, but she has struggled with her attraction to both Jon and Andy and what that has meant for her relationship with God. It is hard for her to let people in sometimes due to the betrayment she suffered from her sister, but she always chooses kindness and forgiveness over revenge.

Cathy: Cathy’s insecurities and shyness took over her life and completely destroyed the person she used to be. Her faith has been stripped from her due to her anxiety over socializing, especially with boys, and this led her to overcompensate and become the ultimate manipulator. She began changing after dating Jason in order to fit into his world and became the socialite of the friend group. Cathy carries a lot of pain around with her and this causes her to act ruthless to others, including her sister who she envies.

Bryan: Bryan is a good guy who treats everyone with respect and kindness. He is not that comfortable with partying, but has definitely been involved. I see him as someone who is good at balancing fun, school, and responsibilities and does not have strong addictions such as Chris and Jon even though he has been around that type of stuff before. Bryan is madly in love with Courtney and wants to protect her at all costs and ends up being a very safe and healthy relationship for her.

Jon: Jon has a strong belief in God, but because he is friends with both Jason and Chris, he fell into the partying scene. He stood out from the rest of the boys because his faith was so strong and he actively tried to make friends in his youth group who would hold him accountable in his Christian path. Insecurity took over his life and he relied on temporary pleasures in life to fulfill him and caused him to have a harsh tempor. He desperately wants to please everyone in his life and always tries to be a good friend, even if that ends up hurting himself more. He is also dealing with abandonment issues that stem from his father leaving MA, and this greatly contributed to his involvement with drugs and alcohol. I really admire his love for Chantal and his desire to do right by himself and God.


The Forces Within is a story that explores the power of spirituality and the battle that many teenagers go through when faced with tough decisions. The story focuses on life after Andy Rossetti wakes up from his coma and what his recovery process looks like, including the recovery that those closest must go through as well.

The Forces Within begins in Fallen Lake, a small New England town, where Leslie’s family owns a Mansion. A group of friends decides to go there for a weekend, but as soon as their trip begins, it is apparent that supernatural forces are at work. The story allows the reader to better understand the characters that they met in the previous MLH books and reveals the truth in who each person really is.

I recommend The Forces Within to all teenagers, especially those who are currently struggling with identity and social pressures. It would be useful to read the other books in the MLH series before reading The Forces Within to fully understand the characters and their relationships to one another. The story is filled with suspense and drama, something that kept me glued to each page. High school is a time for teenagers to discover themselves and this story does a great job of describing some difficulties that are very relatable, and how to get through those daunting situations.

– Elizabeth Harvey of Needham, MA (Class of 2017)

Montgomery Lake High #1: The Right Person

Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon