Modern Day Cinderella

Modern Day Cinderella

by Susan Neuhalfen

When you talk about teachers that lead by example, you’re talking about Kelsey Macke. The Harpool Middle School 7th grade English teacher has shown herself to be a great example to her students by writing a novel that is not only timely to the teenagers of today, it’s much more than just a page turning story.

Damsel Distressed is a young adult fiction novel about Imogen, a 17 year-old living with clinical depression. After being diagnosed at the age of 12, she is simply trying to function when she suffers a relapse. In many ways, this is a modern retelling of Cinderella. After her mother’s death she’s in and out of therapy and when her father remarries, her evil stepsister Ella moves in.

“It’s a modern take on Cinderella from the stepsister’s perspective,” explains Mrs. Macke. “Except this time Cinderella is the evil, manipulative one, trying to make her stepsister’s life miserable.”

Mrs. Macke is a mental health advocate with a Master’s of education in emotional and behavior disorders. She said she wanted to write a story that connects with young people that go through these sort of difficulties and help others understand their trials. Within the story there is beauty and humor, even in the dark times. Imogen is a compilation of many people that Mrs. Macke has encountered in her life including friends, family, students, people she’s worked with and even herself.

“We all have similarities to Imogen,” said Mrs. Macke. “It’s important for young people to understand her story.”

As if that isn’t enough to entice a reader, there is an element of creativity to this story that makes it truly unique. Macke and her husband, Daron, are in an Indy rock band called Wedding Day Rain. Where there are illustrations in the book, there is a QR code to play the music that goes with that part of the book. They released the CD “Imogen Unlocked” at the same time the book was released. The songs represent certain themes in the book, helping the reader to understand not only what Imogen is pondering but what she thinks those around her are thinking as well.

Read the reviews on Amazon, Good Reads and so many more. People love the book, relate to the character and are intrigued by the music. Critics love it as well, awarding Damsel Distressed the Gold Medal Winner of the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award for YA (General).  

“I’ve had dozens of young people from all over the country tell me that the book helped them feel like they’re not alone,” said Mrs. Macke. “Imogen is experiencing universal feelings that all of us can relate to at one point or another.“

This book is about finding hope in hopelessness and moving forward. Macke feels it has resonated with others because being in pain is something that everyone can relate to.

“Young people experience these types of difficult and complicated situations on a day-to-day basis whether adults want to believe it or not,” said Mrs. Macke. “This book empowers those who are hurting to get the help they need and those who don’t to better understand the struggles.”

Damsel Distressed is available on, and

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