"To find out what a story's really about,' the Librarian said,

'you don't ask the writer. You ask the reader."

- SNOW & ROSE by Emily Winfield Martin

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: DAMSEL DISTRESSED by Kelsey Macke (YA)

by Kelsey Macke
Release date: October 14th, 2014
Published by: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Paperback, eBook
Format read: eARC from the publisher.


Hot girls get the fairy tales. No one cares about the stepsisters' story. Those girls don't get a sweet little ending; they get a lifetime of longing 

Imogen Keegen has never had a happily ever after – in fact, she doesn’t think they are possible. Ever since her mother’s death seven years ago, Imogen has pulled herself in and out of therapy, struggled with an “emotionally disturbed” special ed. label, and loathed her perma-plus-sized status.

When Imogen’s new stepsister, the evil and gorgeous Ella Cinder, moves in down the hall, Imogen begins losing grip on the pieces she’s been trying to hold together. The only things that gave her solace – the theatre, cheese fries, and her best friend, Grant – aren’t enough to save her from her pain this time.

While Imogen is enjoying her moment in the spotlight after the high school musical, the journal pages containing her darkest thoughts get put on display. Now, Imogen must resign herself to be crushed under the ever-increasing weight of her pain, or finally accept the starring role in her own life story.

And maybe even find herself a happily ever after.

Enhance the experience with the companion soundtrack, Imogen Unlocked, by the author's band, Wedding Day Rain.



I went into this book thinking it was going to be a funny, quick, light-read; a sweet contemporary to breeze through with a touch of high school drama, first love and a happily ever after... I was so wrong. And, for me, this was really good, with a little bad. I'll explain why in a minute...

Imogen is trying to hold her life together in the best way that she can. Her life has been in turmoil ever since her mother passed away. She continues to deal with her grief. Along with her depression and weight. With her best friend, Grant, always by her side. As bad as things can get, she always manages to pull through and get by. Until her father remarries and she meets her stepmother and stepsister. Something happens to Imogen that is hard to put into words, that is difficult to watch unfold and just rips your heart into pieces. Time goes on, and Imogen is once again back to where she was before. Just trying to get by. Until she's told that her stepsister is actually going to come and live with them now. Once again, Imogen does not know how to handle this and just tries to keep her head above water. With her best friend, and new friends by her side, maybe this time she won't be alone. Maybe this time, someone will be there to hold her hand. To help her get through her story. And maybe that happy ending.

I truly appreciated the fact that the author not only tackled some very hard issues - depression, anxiety, self-harm, loss of a family member - and did so thoughtfully and tactful. But that she also gave us some outstanding and memorable characters -  it's one of the things that I truly liked about his book; all of  Imogen's relationships with everyone, except for the obvious one with her step-sister. The author really brought in an array of diffrent characters, and developed such amazing connections between all of them. Some where not so strong, but grew with patience, love and understanding. Some where almost unbelievable, but with flashbacks and history, grew to be the most fascinating relationships to follow and cheer for. These characters kept me invested in Imogen's story and hoping for the best things for everyone involved in it.

I truly wished that I had read a finished paperback copy. It is often difficult for me to really feel engaged in a story when I read it on my ereader or phone. Especially when there are illustrations that I would have liked to have lingered on, and moments in the book that I would have probably flipped back to to reread. Plus, the cover at first glance is truly beautiful, but upon further inspection, I can see the hidden meaning behind the illustrations. Something I would have noticed right away if I had seen it in person.

If you're looking for a book that will effect you, make you think and look beyond the surface, this is definitely one you will want to pick up. 

*An eARC was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 
All thoughts are my own.


Kelsey Macke has been creative for as long as she can remember. From an early age she was on stage singing, penning poetry, and writing notebooks full of songs. When the idea for her debut novel, DAMSEL DISTRESSED, popped into her head, she was undeterred by the fact that she had no idea how to actually write a novel. Her bff, the internet, was her guide, and after much trial, error, and candy, she finished it, and set out to get it published… a process far more difficult than, the internet (now her mortal enemy), had lead her to believe.
Her whirlwind adventure was made even more unbelievable when she signed with fabulous agent, Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency and, shortly after, Danielle Ellison of Spencer Hill Contemporary bought her debut.
This innovative, mixed-media art project has given Kelsey an incredibly unique opportunity to join two of her passions: writing and making music with her husband as half of the folky, indie-pop band Wedding Day Rain.
DAMSEL DISTRESSED, and the companion album of original songs, Imogen Unlocked, are scheduled for release in October 2014.

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