Barbara J. Shelton’s Review of “Stopped Cold” by Gail Pallotta

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Stopped Cold

Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay.

Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean.

Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.


Gail Pallotta has written an important story of fiction concerning several realistic situations.  This exceptional story is the first I’ve read geared toward teens and young adults; and an enlightening book particularly for parents of teens to read regarding the evil existence of drugs and steroids found in and around our school systems.

Written as a teen mystery, I was quickly drawn into the story as Margaret McWhorter hears her brother Sean explaining to his father that he was replaced as a quarterback on the high school football team.  Dad begins chastising Sean about failing to live up to his high standards of athleticism expected.  After all, dad still rode on his laurels of being a star college quarterback.  Margaret herself is a champion swimmer on the Meriwether School swim team, and feels the sting of criticism for her brother, being familiar with this drill of denigration herself.  Margaret is a typical teen as a freshman in that she wants to have fun, good friends, a boyfriend, make good grades, and to experience all the excitement in life possible within the barriers of parental constraint.  She and Sean have a close relationship – Sean being the quieter, more reserved of the two.

Ms Pallotta’s story rapidly suspends into shock and grief when Margaret receives a call from her mother that Sean has suffered a stroke and is comatose in the hospital.  Sean had taken a Steroid called Winstrol V, intended to increase athletic prowess, which he had apparently obtained illegally.  In researching Winstrol V, to find out if it was fictional or an actual drug, the evidence proved it is real and very dangerous to use unprescribed or if the program isn’t followed with the help of an instructor. She and her parents meet Detective Garrett in Sean’s hospital room.  He is an undercover cop and told Margaret he would be hanging around the favorite teen grill during his investigation and asked her to keep her eyes and ears open for any pertinent information that would help his investigation.

Margaret spent many frustrating hours alone worrying about Sean while her parents were at the hospital.  Even though she continued attending her classes and swim meets alone, her anger at the unknown drug pushers that sold Sean the drug haunted her until Margaret began a plan along with her best friend Emily – a Buddhist, and her school crush Jimmy to solve this mystery.  From this point in the story – I was compelled to work along with Margaret to solve this crime…..Gail Pallotta did a superb job of keeping it mysterious to the end.  I held my breath in many instances of danger for the kids.  It was obvious from the beginning that Margaret was blaming her dad for Sean’s bad choice of taking the drug.

When does a child first become aware of God being there for them?  The beauty of Margaret’s spiritual growth and trust in God grew like a beautiful fragrant flower.  Her mother was a believer and she learned much about the Lord from her; however she didn’t understand the behavior her dad displayed toward attending church and spiritual beliefs.  She didn’t expect miracles, but she prayed for one……or two.  Gail Pallotta has my admiration and some jealousy toward her creative talent of character development.  They are as finely tuned as a lovely stringed instrument, each having a different song to play in the story.

As a parent, grandparent and a great-grandparent – this story jolted me into a fresh awareness of what seems to be a never ending problem of family dysfunction and drugs, a battle my family has dealt with in the past.  Bad decisions lead to disastrous outcomes; however Ms Pallotta’s story reveals faith and prayer as the favorable choice to change behaviors and attitudes.  Thank you, Gail, for asking me to read your wonderful book.  God’s grace certainly flows from your quill.


Gail Pallotta

Best-selling, award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. 

A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen novel, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance ebooks. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. 

Readers can find her on the internet on the staff of Clash of the Titles, 

and at her blog,

Her Web Site is

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