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My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir

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In this beautiful and chilling memoir, twenty-five-year-old Samantha Abeel describes her struggles with a math-related learning disability, and how it forced her to find inner strength and courage. Samantha Abeel couldn't tell time, remember her locker combination, or count out change at a checkout counter -- and she was in seventh grade. For a straight-A student like Saman In this beautiful and chilling memoir, twenty-five-year-old Samantha Abeel describes her struggles with a math-related learning disability, and how it forced her to find inner strength and courage. Samantha Abeel couldn't tell time, remember her locker combination, or count out change at a checkout counter -- and she was in seventh grade. For a straight-A student like Samantha, problems like these made no sense. She dreaded school, and began having anxiety attacks. In her thirteenth winter, she found the courage to confront her problems -- and was diagnosed with a learning disability. Slowly, Samantha's life began to change again. She discovered that she was stronger than she'd ever thought possible -- and that sometimes, when things look bleakest, hope is closer than you think.


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In this beautiful and chilling memoir, twenty-five-year-old Samantha Abeel describes her struggles with a math-related learning disability, and how it forced her to find inner strength and courage. Samantha Abeel couldn't tell time, remember her locker combination, or count out change at a checkout counter -- and she was in seventh grade. For a straight-A student like Saman In this beautiful and chilling memoir, twenty-five-year-old Samantha Abeel describes her struggles with a math-related learning disability, and how it forced her to find inner strength and courage. Samantha Abeel couldn't tell time, remember her locker combination, or count out change at a checkout counter -- and she was in seventh grade. For a straight-A student like Samantha, problems like these made no sense. She dreaded school, and began having anxiety attacks. In her thirteenth winter, she found the courage to confront her problems -- and was diagnosed with a learning disability. Slowly, Samantha's life began to change again. She discovered that she was stronger than she'd ever thought possible -- and that sometimes, when things look bleakest, hope is closer than you think.

30 review for My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manybooks

    Well I actually started reading Samantha Abeel's My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir in 2015, and then basically and promptly forgot all about it until just recently (which I think already amply demonstrates that while the subject matter of learning challenges, of specific special educational needs, and yes, in particular the math based disability of dyscalculia, might well have been of much personal interest to me, the book itself never really did manage to in any way engage me and I actually only f Well I actually started reading Samantha Abeel's My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir in 2015, and then basically and promptly forgot all about it until just recently (which I think already amply demonstrates that while the subject matter of learning challenges, of specific special educational needs, and yes, in particular the math based disability of dyscalculia, might well have been of much personal interest to me, the book itself never really did manage to in any way engage me and I actually only finished My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir because I owned a copy thus wanted to complete the book). For while My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir is both thought-provoking and intense and although I have in truth much appreciated being allowed to partake of author/narrator Samantha Abeel's thoughts and life story, and especially her struggles with dyscalculia, I am also and actually continuously noticing an at times rather majorly problematic and annoying "my type of dyscalculia and my way of dealing with this challenge are the only acceptable way" mentality presented (an attitude I personally do VERY MUCH resent and find frustrating, if not even a bit potentially insulting in so far that learning challenges often and actually usually vary greatly from person to person and what for some might well be the case and might work for compensating or as coping strategies might not necessarily be the case or even an appropriate method for others, even for those struggling with, being faced with similar general problems and issues). Take me, for example. While I actually and indeed have never been tested for or diagnosed with dyscalculia, reading up on the latter (whilst researching my own relatively recent diagnosis of non verbal learning disabilities) has indeed convinced me that I probably do also have at least some aspects of dyscalculia present. However, very much unlike Samantha Abeel's very strong and overt dyscalculia (which has also seemingly affected her spelling and grammar acumen and skills), I for one have ALWAYS been both a good speller (not orally, but definitely on paper) and almost at times anally logical and specific with regard to grammar and word semantics. And thus I do definitely find it more than somewhat annoying and actually even angering and infuriating that the narrative of My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir, that Samantha Abeel seems to so very strongly insinuate that her specific, that her own dyscalculia with both mathematical and grammatical and spelling manifestations is somehow the ONLY true and bona fide dyscalculia there supposedly is (almost as though she thinks that those of us who have legitimate math issues but do not have the corresponding grammar and spelling manifestations she experiences, are somehow lying or perhaps even just pretending). And although I do both respect and realise that My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir is for all intents and purposes a personal memoir, the attitude of the author, Samantha Abeel’s in many ways what I can only call a "my way or the highway" type of philosophy, now that has definitely put a major damper on my reading pleasure, and while I did purchase My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir with much and in eager anticipation, the book itself has been (even while enlightening and informative) also rather a major let-down and personal disappointment (and has left me both unsatisfied and more than a bit frustrated and annoyed). However, in retrospect and all that being said, I still would likely have considered a low three star rating for My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir had Samantha Abeel not been so unilaterally and all encompassingly supportive of the use and prescription of antidepressants to deal with the anxieties and other emotional issues that dyscalculia and other such learning issues often cause (for while I am of course glad that for her, antidepressants seem to have worked and seem to have stabilised her mood, they are neither nor should they ever be considered as a cure-all and panacea that will work for everyone, and I most definitely do rather strongly chafe at the author's, that Samantha Abeel’s seeming attitude and Weltanschauung that everyone with dyscalculia should consider trying antidepressants, that somehow, these medications will work in or should work for all). Two stars (and yes, I do somewhat still recommend My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir for the information about dyscalculia it contains, especially seeing that dyscalculia is still a rarely considered and little understood learning disability, but my recommendations exist only with some heavy reservations and caveats that potential readers not simply approach the author’s struggles with dyscalculia and her coping strategies as the one and only way and manner of action and reaction).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I found this book in my classroom when I came back to New Mark Middle School this summer. It struck me as something I would want to read, and I have to say my first impression was right. This book is amazing. It is a memoir. In it, Samantha Abeel tells her story of dealing with a math learning disability called discalculia. Abeel was considered a bright intelligent young girl, but she struggled with basic math concepts; telling time, adding and subtracting basic numbers, counting money, etc. Bec I found this book in my classroom when I came back to New Mark Middle School this summer. It struck me as something I would want to read, and I have to say my first impression was right. This book is amazing. It is a memoir. In it, Samantha Abeel tells her story of dealing with a math learning disability called discalculia. Abeel was considered a bright intelligent young girl, but she struggled with basic math concepts; telling time, adding and subtracting basic numbers, counting money, etc. Because she was so strong in other educational areas, many people assumed that there was nothing wrong with her, or even worse that she was just not trying hard enough. This eventually drove young Abeel into a depression and caused her to completely withdraw from her friends and family. In her thirteenth winter, when Abeel was in seventh grade, her mother discovered an article that described students who were really high in many academic areas, but struggled badly in one. It turns out Abeel had a math learning disability that was causing her trouble in school. She also was having psychological problems resulting from the stress of not knowing what was going on. After a little struggle with the school district Abeel was finally diagnosed with discalculia. She had an answer to why she struggled so much in math, and she suddenly had a new lease on life. Abeel is an incredible writer with respect to the ideas she puts in her writing, and she also is very good at poetry. Thanks to a teacher that picked up on these strengths, Abeel had been pushed to explore more poetry. Her teacher had a friend that was a painter, Abeel and him began working on a book of poetry that was paired with his paintings. Abeel's mother worked to get this poetry booked published. Slowly, as a result of the book, people started to hear about Abeel's story and wanted her to come and speak. Abeel soon was traveling all over the country speaking and telling her story. This is a book that really challenges your assumptions as a teacher. Many times you hear in regards to students who receive special services that they "just need to work a little bit harder." No matter how hard Abeel worked, there was always going to be a problem with basic math and spelling. Something in her brain just made her different and unable to do these tasks. This book also opened my eyes to the internal struggles that a person with a learning disability deals with. It's something all people ought to expose themselves to. This book is a Schneider Family Book Award winner. The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. You can find more about Samantha Abeel at http://samanthaabeel.com/. Lexile: 1050

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mcvane

    Basically, this is a memoir of a special flake that lives on the edge of a town called Pityme. Please note that this is not a review. Rather, it's an initial reaction: I may be biased as I also have dyscalculia (I can't count one to ten backwards nor could I make heads and tails of my bank account). After some forty pages, I so badly wanted to kick the book to curb, but I persisted. Did it pay off? Yes and no. I do realise it's her story, but I simply couldn't relate. Well, I did relate to some Basically, this is a memoir of a special flake that lives on the edge of a town called Pityme. Please note that this is not a review. Rather, it's an initial reaction: I may be biased as I also have dyscalculia (I can't count one to ten backwards nor could I make heads and tails of my bank account). After some forty pages, I so badly wanted to kick the book to curb, but I persisted. Did it pay off? Yes and no. I do realise it's her story, but I simply couldn't relate. Well, I did relate to some of her experiences, but not to her perspective and outlook. It may be a personality issue, but when I was at her age, I found my dyscalculia a useful tool to assess people's ability to adapt to something they weren't familiar with. I also used the "where there is a will, there's a way, and when there's a person blocking the way, kick that person down because otherwise, there'll be a long road of sheer frustration ahead" approach. I wasn't a sensitive soul like this author, I suppose. While I found her story interesting and sometimes poignant, it's still just one person's story. I just hope that other readers won't come away thinking her story is the representation of our lives, because I think some forget to take other factors into account, such as personality, family, friends, network of support (or lack of) and of course, various degrees of dyscalculia itself. Don't get me wrong; Samantha is certainly right about one thing - it's an everyday struggle. It doesn't end the moment a book is closed. It continues every day, and it can be so unpredictable. Such as receiving a formal letter from a council requesting a meter reading, or when you're at ATM and you realise you forgot the pattern (the trick of 'remembering' a PIN is memorise the finger movement pattern on keypad). It can be tiring, but it helps us to be highly adaptable, which is a useful part of life, isn't it? I do realise that my expectations may be too high when I bought this book as it's, after all, one person's story. Kudos to the author for writing My Thirteenth Winter, though. I can easily guess writing it hadn't been an easy ride.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    I wanted to like this book, and I did within the first 50 or so pages. I guess I should lay off memoirs for awhile. There's a self-importance that just irritates me. I find myself wanting to scream at the narrator to "just get over it already!" and "to get help, dude." Ok, this book was an interesing peek into the life of someone dealing with a learning disability. As a teacher, I found it intriguing, and it made me wonder how many of my own students are living with undiagnosed learning disabilit I wanted to like this book, and I did within the first 50 or so pages. I guess I should lay off memoirs for awhile. There's a self-importance that just irritates me. I find myself wanting to scream at the narrator to "just get over it already!" and "to get help, dude." Ok, this book was an interesing peek into the life of someone dealing with a learning disability. As a teacher, I found it intriguing, and it made me wonder how many of my own students are living with undiagnosed learning disabilities. But I couldn't get over the endless whining in the book. Even when things were going smoothly, the narrator would add some kind of "but" in it. I was also amused by the description of her panic attacks. Not that panic attacks are amusing, I've had a few myself, but she made it seem like puking is the worst thing in the world. My internal response (because I don't talk out loud to my books!) was "just go stick your face in the toilet." Seriously, she acted like puking was horrible horrible horrible, and it's not pleasant by a long shot, but sheesh! It made me wonder if she ever had a stomach bug before. Enough ranting. I won't be reading this one again.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    The author is gifted in writing, public speaking and creativity. Because of that she masked her LD issues until 7th grade. She has a learning disability that limits her in logical and process thinking. She can name numbers and math signs, but can't tell you how to do an operation. She can't easily look at her day or week and know if she has enough time to accomplish the tasks she needs/wants to do. Oh and she has depression and perfectionism. It is a good book. It was fairly well written. Her po The author is gifted in writing, public speaking and creativity. Because of that she masked her LD issues until 7th grade. She has a learning disability that limits her in logical and process thinking. She can name numbers and math signs, but can't tell you how to do an operation. She can't easily look at her day or week and know if she has enough time to accomplish the tasks she needs/wants to do. Oh and she has depression and perfectionism. It is a good book. It was fairly well written. Her poetry is beautiful. It was instructive. Because of my background in both gifted and special education, I found it really interesting, but because I'm in the trenches of helping fight for the right education for my own children, it gave me anxiety, so I didn't love it as much as I might have at another time.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    This memoir by a young woman who has a disorder called dyscalculia felt claustrophobic to me. It taught me some things about bright people who have a hard time with math and maps and telling time, but for me, dwelt too much on the sadness and alienation Abeel felt. Also, it's hard to fill out a 200-odd page memoir when one begins at age 13 and ends with college graduation.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Taryn

    I want to preface this by saying - I am in no way the only learning disabled or gifted learning disabled person that has reviewed this book. I am not speaking over those reviewers or in any way saying this review or my experience with the book is the only one you should go off of. I understand some reviewers with disabilities (and some with dyscalculia specifically) dislike this memoir. In no way does this memoir ( or my review of this memoir) reflect all LDs or all experiences of dyscalculia, n I want to preface this by saying - I am in no way the only learning disabled or gifted learning disabled person that has reviewed this book. I am not speaking over those reviewers or in any way saying this review or my experience with the book is the only one you should go off of. I understand some reviewers with disabilities (and some with dyscalculia specifically) dislike this memoir. In no way does this memoir ( or my review of this memoir) reflect all LDs or all experiences of dyscalculia, nor should this memoir be treated or viewed as a sole representation. ******* Did I write this? I don't have dyscalculia, to my knowledge, but I do have other disabilities that fall under the Non-Verbal Learning Disability spectrum - confusing name, but basically in my case means that things that have to do with non-verbal ability I struggle with; or that verbal communication and tasks is where my strengths are - and, reading this I found myself grabbing for my highlighter every few pages, sometimes every few sentences. Maybe because she is also a writer, like myself, maybe it's because she also struggles with depression along with her LD, but almost every single thing she was saying - her struggles with her LD, her struggles with her social interactions, her struggles with driving and work, almost everything - felt and read like it was coming straight from my own mouth. I have never seen a book that represented me and my struggles - however not all disabilities or other's struggles - so well. To know that this book was written by a disabled woman, not a teacher, not a parent, not a doctor, was obviously one of the most refreshing parts of this book as a whole. To clarify and illustrate some of many of the relatable lines/sentiments I found within Samantha's memoir - "I feel like a liar, as if I have been leading them on. I have made everyone believe that I am smart. The teachers all like me. [...] They don't know how lost I feel inside, how helpless" (23). Like seriously, take my heart and twist it why don't you, Samantha? "No one knew how just far behind I was. I had become such a master at masking and covering for what I didn't know, my teacher had no idea [...]" (32). What a lot of people find hard to understand about learning disabilities and other invisible disabilities is that when we are born, we are first seen as neurotypical and able-bodied, unless there is something there, whether on our bodies or shown within brain scans, that "prove" otherwise. Therefore, in my experience, I was raised for many years as a non-disabled child, as most of us are, while still struggling internally with a disability. In an effort not to make this review about me, I will just say that several times throughout her memoir Samantha explains why it took her so long to get help, what made her slip under the radar, and what allowed her to see herself as someone incapable, rather as someone with a learning disability. All of these reasons and struggles applied directly to my own journey of discovering I had a learning disability, something I didn't accept and get help for until 16 years old. I felt that this memoir encompassed exactly how I felt trying to hide my own incompetencies in kindergarten up until my senior year of high school. Therefore, this memoir is a great representation for me, though not necessarily for every disabled person. "What am I going to do if I can't even bus a table or clean a hotel room?" (159) This really resonated with me personally because I struggle with traditional jobs as well, not being able to master the skills needed for jobs such as waiting tables or cleaning rooms for pay, and I never will. However, in her memoir, she eventually found her calling working at day camps, with different groups of children where the job didn't depend so majorly on ordered tasks and the same routine. Those are the jobs I excel in as well, so my jaw practically dropped when I saw that another disabled woman found comfort working within more social communication settings. There are many other instances and lines within this memoir that encompass the struggles of having an invisible disability, but if I listed and explained them all and their impact on me I would be typing the entire memoir into this review. However, it's important to acknowledge the appreciation I felt at Samantha's emphasis on the fact that; 1) Learning disabilities do not go away. 2) They affect your whole life, both public and private. 3) Each situation that you face, your LD can and most likely will present different challenges that you must become used to. 4) To admit to yourself you have a learning disability and then accept that and the struggles (and strengths) that come with it is very important. This memoir may have its' faults, and I'm sure they are depicted in other reviews. However, this book felt like a literal depiction of my entire life up until today (save for a few instances), and every single word seemed to resonate with me. Seeing myself so clearly within a book, not just any book, but a book WRITTEN by a person with these same struggles was eye-opening and wonderful. To reiterate however, although this book resonated with me and FELT like a depiction of my life and my disability - it was not. There are several things I struggle with that Samantha excels at, and vice versa. This memoir is just that - a memoir detailing one woman's life with one specific disability, and should be treated as such. Regardless, it is important for everyone that may read or review this book that an #ownvoices memoir about disability is very important, and the fact that this was written as someone's insight into their own life must be taken into consideration, just as every memoir is detailing an event in one person's life, and therefore the experience is only wholeheartedly true to the writer. My comments about this memoir all stand. I feel very connected to Samantha, and admire her greatly. I am very thankful to have finally read this book and I am even more pleased than I imagined I could be. Highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This was a random library pick for me. It seemed interesting from reading the book flap. I enjoyed this quick read book. I appreciate Abeel taking the time to write down her experience with her learning disability, dyscalculia. She describes her anxiety that came along with her disability, mostly because they were unaware and her parents had to fight the school to get her help - she had high grades in other subjects, so they didn't think she was at risk. Times have certainly changed. To me, this This was a random library pick for me. It seemed interesting from reading the book flap. I enjoyed this quick read book. I appreciate Abeel taking the time to write down her experience with her learning disability, dyscalculia. She describes her anxiety that came along with her disability, mostly because they were unaware and her parents had to fight the school to get her help - she had high grades in other subjects, so they didn't think she was at risk. Times have certainly changed. To me, this gives cause to support the benchmark testing the schools are now required to do. If benchmark testing had been around when Abeel was in school, they would have noticed that she needed Math help early in elementary school. I also believe with Common Core requiring different methods to teach Math concepts would help. I never understood fractions until I read Common Core material with my son. It's amazing how a different approach can be helpful. I get that this was memoir but think it could have been enhanced with some more specifics or explanation on her learning disability.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Natalee

    From the jacket flap: Have you ever had trouble figuring out a tip at a restaurant? Or following directions to a new place? For Samantha Abeel, who has a math-related learning disability called dyscalculia, each of these seemingly simple acts can feel next to impossible. In her beautiful and haunting memoir, Samantha Abeel describes in evocative detail how her life was affected by her learning disability before and after she was diagnosed. In seventh grade she struggled wit the pressures of junior From the jacket flap: Have you ever had trouble figuring out a tip at a restaurant? Or following directions to a new place? For Samantha Abeel, who has a math-related learning disability called dyscalculia, each of these seemingly simple acts can feel next to impossible. In her beautiful and haunting memoir, Samantha Abeel describes in evocative detail how her life was affected by her learning disability before and after she was diagnosed. In seventh grade she struggled wit the pressures of junior high, from balancing schoolwork, to remembering locker combinations, to explaining her difficulties with math to new teachers who couldn't understand why a "good" student like Samantha wasn't excelling. Though signs of a learning disability were there all her life, she was not diagnosed until she was thirteen years old. My Thirteenth Winter, Samantha Abeel's honest, hopeful autobiography, is an inspiring story of courage and strength. Samantha truly has a gift with words and her narrative of memories interspersed with reflection draws you in and carries you along. I was moved to tears for her struggles and the compassion that she felt for others, as well as for the countless students who move through our classroom who struggle and no one ever knows. This is a book that should be read by parents, teachers, and teens. Samantha recognizes how fortunate she was to have parents who where able to push through the system and get her the help she needed. She had break-throughs and relapses. The story is truly one of hope.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    This book was a complete surprise for me. A few weeks ago, my mother sent me an email which included a beautiful quote from this book. It was about being a writer, and my mother was paying a compliment to me in regards to my dedication to blogging. Interested in reading the book where the quote came from, I found myself reading about a very bright girl whose world collapsed around her as she struggled through her elementary school years with an undiagnosed learning disability. Samantha Abeel was This book was a complete surprise for me. A few weeks ago, my mother sent me an email which included a beautiful quote from this book. It was about being a writer, and my mother was paying a compliment to me in regards to my dedication to blogging. Interested in reading the book where the quote came from, I found myself reading about a very bright girl whose world collapsed around her as she struggled through her elementary school years with an undiagnosed learning disability. Samantha Abeel was a bright, precocious and highly confident young child. Her memories of Kindergarten and first grade are of being in the top of her class and proudly so. She knew she was known as one of the smart kids and did her best to live up to her reputation, even as she inwardly began to realize that sometimes, particularly during math time, she had to fake it. As her school years progressed, and she couldn't keep up with her peers in math, and she couldn't admit that she had no idea how to tell time, she turned inward in humiliation and depression, while secretly praying that the difference was merely because she was special and wise, and not at all slow. After many unfortunate delays and misdiagnoses, Abeel was finally diagnosed with a math and sequencing learning disability known as dyscalculia. Throughout her schooling, Abeel realized that although she couldn't understand the rules of grammar and had a hard time spelling, she had a gift for words and poetry and channeled her gift into a skill of writing. As a ninth grader, she, with help from several teachers and artists, published a book whose name was later changed to Reach For the Moon. While it gave her confidence and success, she still drifted into social isolation and depression throughout high school and later, college. Reading about her change, her isolation and fear, made my heart pound as I thought about the possibility of any of my own children suffering in this way. Particularly Henry, as we continue to worry about whether or not his speech will come or if it will be a continual battle for him throughout his life. The faults I have with this book lies in its slow, repetitive pace. As the story begins with her memories as a kindergartener and ends with her graduating from college, it's got more than enough "space" for her memoir, the sort of book usually reserved for a later time in life. Additionally, Abeel frequently transitions the style of writing from autobiography to memoir, which sometimes works but often times feels incredibly jarring. It's like she's a narrator to her own memories, but without first giving a warning to the reader to "fade to screen". Aside from that, I think this would be a valuable and worthwhile book to discuss. From our current education model to the causes of depression and its treatment, I think many women, mothers and friends could relate to its material. I also think it would be a good book to recommend for older children with learning disabilities or their peers. And, now, for the quote that started it all, which is actually quite relevant to her own story, but also a beautiful passage for anyone who enjoys writing. For an admissions essay to Mount Holyoke College, she writes: Sometimes on winter mornings, I try to see myself in gathered wrinkles, my dark hair forsaking me to silver. I try to see my hands traced by blue veins and my eyes in vintage brown. I try to see myself a little bent, a little withered. I close my eyes and see me all in white, all in gray, draped in the webs of age. Oh, I will ache a little and have one of those chronic coughs. I will sit in my chair and pull at curtains that reveal a window etched with white doves of frost. Then, maybe just then, I will know what I was and who I am. I will know all that I took and all that I gave. It is here that I want to be a messenger, a courier of everything I've gathered. I want to tell my grandchildren of the games my friends and I would play. I want to pass on the legends that creep around us. I want to tell them of the sand dunes and of the lakes. I want to tell them of the many ghosts that look fondly upon them. I want to say that I have made a difference. I want to give them the world through my eyes. However, for now, my center, my sense of self, my purpose is yet unclear to me. I see it like one sees a fish in a river, only silvery flashes of fin and tail. Never seeing all of it at once. The journey to discover these things lies ahead. When I am in the November of my life maybe then I will understand my June. I do know that I want desperately to understand what I don't, and give the understanding of what I do to others. Perhaps one day, after I have sunken into the shadows, my granddaughter will read one of my poems to her daughter, or show her a book that I collected, maybe even pass on one of the stories that I told. Then, there in that moment, is all that we can ever hope to be. That one little niche in time, when what we gave, or passed on, is given again. I could never say it quite so well, but this is what I hope too.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Seanna

    Okay, lets start with the fact that I started of strongly disliking this book but then as the book moved on I started to like the book more and more. This book was very inspirational and eye opening. It shows that no matter the struggles in your life that you just have to keep moving on and face your life/struggles head on. That not everything in your life is your fault. also that depression keeps your life on hold and you cant let that get in the way that you have to get help. MY THIRTEENTH WIN Okay, lets start with the fact that I started of strongly disliking this book but then as the book moved on I started to like the book more and more. This book was very inspirational and eye opening. It shows that no matter the struggles in your life that you just have to keep moving on and face your life/struggles head on. That not everything in your life is your fault. also that depression keeps your life on hold and you cant let that get in the way that you have to get help. MY THIRTEENTH WINTER is a great book with very strong messages. I strongly recommend reading this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Really Amazing. Well written - this memoir reads like fiction. Eye opening. What an amazing woman. I was going to say very 'realistic' - but of course it is realistic - it really happened, it is Samantha's real life. However, few authors would be able to depict their experience with such 'realism' - such description that one is drawn into her life and can feel what she feels. 1) Well written -- very well written (amazing poetry!) 2) Story - fascinating, true life, well described, well laid out, well Really Amazing. Well written - this memoir reads like fiction. Eye opening. What an amazing woman. I was going to say very 'realistic' - but of course it is realistic - it really happened, it is Samantha's real life. However, few authors would be able to depict their experience with such 'realism' - such description that one is drawn into her life and can feel what she feels. 1) Well written -- very well written (amazing poetry!) 2) Story - fascinating, true life, well described, well laid out, well told 3) Genre - Memoir I can't imagine a better written memoir. One FEELS what she felt - as best as anyone can feel what someone else is feeling it is respectful of others, respectful of herself, of life, of challenge ... yet it does not 'gloss over' things. I could absolutely imagine myself in her mother's place. I felt like I was the one doing the flash cards with her. How could she remember so distinctly and describe so completely that scene - that real life moment? 4) Beyond Labels -- goes without saying, this is a 10 out of 10. I can so picture her, being boxed in as 'smart' - that being her self image, her sense of worth; her later realizing and coping with being different in her thinking. I love that she describes it as different - not disability (in the beginning) 5) Thought Provoking/Book Club - yes, very much so, but I would not put this on the top of my list It is so well written, there is little to discuss! But I highly, highly recommend that it be ON reading lists!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Krista Stevens

    Figuring out that you have a learning disability and then trying to live with that is a challenge for any young kid. Samantha Abeel is extremely descriptive and honest as she describes what it was like as a young child and up through middle trying to learn and failing before she was diagnosed with dyscalculia - a LD that makes it difficult for her to tell time, figure out how long things might take, how grammar works, etc. Thanks to a diligent mother who encouraged her as well as found creative Figuring out that you have a learning disability and then trying to live with that is a challenge for any young kid. Samantha Abeel is extremely descriptive and honest as she describes what it was like as a young child and up through middle trying to learn and failing before she was diagnosed with dyscalculia - a LD that makes it difficult for her to tell time, figure out how long things might take, how grammar works, etc. Thanks to a diligent mother who encouraged her as well as found creative ways for her to build her self-confidence (she's a great writer), Samantha slowly figures out who she is in light of this learning disability. I just wish it hadn't taken her family or others around her so long to figure out that she was depressed and also seek help for that - there were obvious symptoms as early as elementary school. Somewhat of a tough story but also inspirational. Also informative on how hard it is to learn in a cookie-cutter setting when there are also LDs present.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lin Lin

    A remarkable memoir by Samantha Abeel confirms my belief that children with special needs can do amazing things in their lives if they receive the appropriate support to accommodate their learning disabilities. Samantha has dyscalculia, a learning disability that affects her ability to tell time, sequence events, and conduct mathematical operations. Despite her challenge, she graduated from college and became a successful writer. Her disability became her unusual and rewarding gift.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Monet

    Rarely do I read memoirs, but I'm glad I found this one. As I have gone through a similar experience as the author, this book made me feel less alone, weird and guilty for being who I am. This story was a comfort to someone who is introverted and I recommend that people with dyscalculia should also read it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Decided not to read, as it's YA and the blurb says "chilling," and the cover looks depressing. I don't think it's all that horrible or rare to have to wait until age 13 to be diagnosed with a learning disability, actually. Darn shame, yes. But compared to other challenges many other kids face, not "haunting."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Rutherford

    This book has a great potential to help those without LD to understand what it is like to live with LD. Dyscalculia isn't well known so finding a book written by someone with this disorder is awesome.

  18. 5 out of 5

    A_B_B_Y

    This is a book I read over the summer that I did not need to write a review for.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ranyabelmaachi

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The story is a first person point of view. The girl writing the novel is explaining to the reader of how she was before she knew she was disabled. In first grade till fourth grade she has pretended to understand math and english however she couldn't memorize anything. She is explain how hard it is to keep a secret like this for so long and how she is really trying her best but can't. One day her mom tried to help her in math and she realized how Samantha couldn't memorize any problem, for instan The story is a first person point of view. The girl writing the novel is explaining to the reader of how she was before she knew she was disabled. In first grade till fourth grade she has pretended to understand math and english however she couldn't memorize anything. She is explain how hard it is to keep a secret like this for so long and how she is really trying her best but can't. One day her mom tried to help her in math and she realized how Samantha couldn't memorize any problem, for instance when her mom showed her 5-3, she said her mind was blank her mom skipped a few problems and came back to five minus three and she couldn't remember it. That moment was when he mom realized her real problem. Her mom even sent her to do test but she had nothing so Samantha had to move on and try her best. For the moment the rising point is that samantha is showing to the reader how she was before knowing anything about her disability and how she was struggling but secretly. These events are evidence of how she was before the climax, the reader can assume that maybe the climax will be when she discovers her disability. The reader would think this because primarily she is talking about the past and is always referring as these events as before she discover her sickness and is always saying how now she understands why she couldn't remember this or couldn't do that. The time the story is told is in the past. The author Samatha Abeel is 25 years old now and is writing her own biography of how she was and how it complexed her to be disabled in math. She is writing about how she went to school and how challenging it was when in all the other classes she was an A+ student and only in math and english she would be challenged even her teacher saw that but couldn't understand. Now Samantha wants to show the readers how it was to be at her place and how she couldn't keep up and how chalenging it was. 29 October 2014 Samantha is having more problems and attacks each year. Her stomachaches are getting more often and hurting farther every time. What specifically are her stomachaches aches are that she starts having a stomachache then she starts trembling from her legs to hands, afterwards, she has nausea and if she has to force herself to walk to get water or she will throw up. Her social life has ended because of these stomachaches, she is too scared that if she goes to a party or sleeps over this will happen and she will humiliate herself. As Samantha is growing she is telling less and less things to her parents about these symptoms. She knows that her parents think she is exaggerating. Her parents in the begging felt empathy, however now they are losing their patience. One night Samantha was supposed to sleep in one of her friend’s house however late at night she called her father because of her stomachaches. The readers could see that her dad was kind of angry but still talked to Samantha nicely. In school Samantha’s teacher understand her situation but don’t know how to help. Samantha can’t even remember her own locker combination. Her math teacher is always helping her personally by giving her extra time or letting Samantha come in lunch for help. He explains problems and equations clearly and can see that Samantha is struggling. 7 november 2014 Samantha is getting better in math and emotionally. She is getting better because her parents are making her going to a psychologist and the school has accepted to put her in a special children class for children who are complexed in math. Each wednesday Samantha is going to the psychologist. This helps her because she can talk about how she feels and what is going on with her life. She also is going to a special kids math class instead of her usual math class. This helped Samantha a lot because she has less stomach aches and she is less stressed out. To conclude the psychologist and the change in the math class has only made Samantha better. The climax of the story is when she changed math classes. Samantha changing math classes is the climax because it is the part of the story where it impact the story the most. It has impacted her because she is less stressed, is more motivated to go to school, she eats more, and has less stomach aches The moment the administration told Samantha she would be moved to a special kids class for math she released a stress she has been holding on since first grade. Secondly before Samantha would depress in the morning and try to find an excuse to not go however now she isn't as depressed to go to class. Another reason is that Samantha eats more and before her changing her math class she would barely eat just enough to get energy. The most important change was that after the meeting her stomach aches reduced and she had less of them. To conclude Samantha changing math classes has changed her life. Samantha has developed throughout the novel in several ways. She has developed through her social life, since she has less stomach aches she believes that she has less chances of humiliating herself. However she thinks that she is to far behind to be able to have a social life again because she lost all her friends. Samantha has also developed through her self confidence because she is following a psychiatrist. This is helping her through self confidence because her doctor is helping her see that she is not that different after all and that it is all in her mind. In conclusion Samantha has developed through her self confidence and her social life. 14 november 2014 To summarize my thertieenth winter Samantha started writing a journal/book and it was published. When Samantha wrote her book she started getting letters everyday from her readers: they would say how they understood her and that they had the same struggles too. Samantha wrote about her learning disability and what she had lost because of it. When she had finished writing her book and people sent her letters and even came for her to sign it she felt more secure and self confident. To conclude Samantha's book has helped her a lot she has more friends and self confidence, in fact it wasn't a book it was her journal. Samantha has developed in several ways. Samantha has developed by having more self esteem and confidence. She has more confidence because she now she can go out with her friends and before she couldn't. Her confidence has developed when she started to have less stomach aches she was less scared to go out. Her self esteem has exceeded because she talks to people and goes to parties. She has all of this self esteem because she isn't anymore scared of showing who she really is because of her journal. In conclusion Samantha has developed in self esteem and confidence. Samantha has many characteristics. Samantha is very intelligent and loves reading aloud. Since she has started her special math class she has A's everywhere even in math. She starts to be more stable in english. Afterwards she also loves reading the loud. The first day she came to her math class we asked her to read a poem aloud and she did and the class loved it so from that day on everyone asked her to read a poem before coming in to class. To sum up Samantha has many traits two of them are her intelligence and her reading aloud skill.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chasity Russell

    Curricular Connections: I would use this book in a class with older kids and I will talk to them either in groups or one on one about something they’re struggling with or something that they’re curious about. Then I will have a activity/lesson where all students will write a poem or create something that reflects and deals with what they’re feeling inside. It will be a stress release activity but it will also be fun for them to do and hopefully they’ll learn something from it. This lesson will h Curricular Connections: I would use this book in a class with older kids and I will talk to them either in groups or one on one about something they’re struggling with or something that they’re curious about. Then I will have a activity/lesson where all students will write a poem or create something that reflects and deals with what they’re feeling inside. It will be a stress release activity but it will also be fun for them to do and hopefully they’ll learn something from it. This lesson will help students to try and become more Courageous, Sociable, Self-Confident, Determined and Understanding. The TEKS I chose will help incorporate with the lessons and activities for students. §110.31. English Language Arts and Reading, English I (One Credit), Beginning with School Year 2009-2010. (3) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Poetry. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of poetry and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to analyze the effects of diction and imagery (e.g., controlling images, figurative language, understatement, overstatement, irony, paradox) in poetry. (4) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Drama. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of drama and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to explain how dramatic conventions (e.g., monologues, soliloquies, dramatic irony) enhance dramatic text. (5) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Fiction. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of fiction and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to: (A) analyze non-linear plot development (e.g., flashbacks, foreshadowing, sub-plots, parallel plot structures) and compare it to linear plot development; (B) analyze how authors develop complex yet believable characters in works of fiction through a range of literary devices, including character foils; (C) analyze the way in which a work of fiction is shaped by the narrator's point of view; and (D) demonstrate familiarity with works by authors from non-English-speaking literary traditions with emphasis on classical literature. (6) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Literary Nonfiction. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the varied structural patterns and features of literary nonfiction and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to analyze how literary essays interweave personal examples and ideas with factual information to explain, present a perspective, or describe a situation or event. (7) Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Sensory Language. Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about how an author's sensory language creates imagery in literary text and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to explain the role of irony, sarcasm, and paradox in literary works. (14) Writing/Literary Texts. Students write literary texts to express their ideas and feelings about real or imagined people, events, and ideas. Students are responsible for at least two forms of literary writing. Students are expected to: (A) write an engaging story with a well-developed conflict and resolution, interesting and believable characters, and a range of literary strategies (e.g., dialogue, suspense) and devices to enhance the plot; (B) write a poem using a variety of poetic techniques (e.g., structural elements, figurative language) and a variety of poetic forms (e.g., sonnets, ballads); and (C) write a script with an explicit or implicit theme and details that contribute to a definite mood or tone. §110.52. Creative Writing (One-Half to One Credit). (1) The study of creative writing allows high school students to earn one-half to one credit while developing versatility as a writer. Creative Writing, a rigorous composition course, asks high school students to demonstrate their skill in such forms of writing as fictional writing, short stories, poetry, and drama. All students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of the recursive nature of the writing process, effectively applying the conventions of usage and the mechanics of written English. The students' evaluation of their own writing as well as the writing of others ensures that students completing this course are able to analyze and discuss published and unpublished pieces of writing, develop peer and self-assessments for effective writing, and set their own goals as writers. (2) For high school students whose first language is not English, the students' native language serves as a foundation for English language acquisition and language learning. (3) Statements that contain the word "including" reference content that must be mastered, while those containing the phrase "such as" are intended as possible illustrative examples. (4) The essential knowledge and skills as well as the student expectations for Creative Writing, an elective course, are described in subsection (b) of this section. (b) Knowledge and skills. (1) The student writes for a variety of audiences and purposes to develop versatility as a writer. The student is expected to: (A) write expressive, informative, and persuasive literary texts effectively; (B) demonstrate the distinguishing characteristics of various written forms such as fictional writing, short stories, poetry, and drama in his/her own writing; (C) elaborate writing when appropriate such as using concrete images, figurative language, sensory observation, dialogue, and other rhetorical devices to enhance meaning; (D) employ various points of view to communicate effectively; (E) choose topics and forms to develop fluency and voice; (F) use word choice, sentence structure, and repetition to create tone; and (G) organize ideas in writing to ensure coherence, logical progression, and support for ideas.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Habiba Kabbaj

    “My mom had heard from my teachers that I struggled with arithmetic, but it was not until one night during my second-grade year when we practiced with flash cards that she witnessed the reality of my disability for the first time.” (Abeel.16) My Thirteenth Winter, written by Samantha Abeel is a memoir describing the author’s adolescent years with dyscalculia, a severe brain disability, making it impossible to do mathematical calculations. Throughout her elementary school years, Abeel finds it ea “My mom had heard from my teachers that I struggled with arithmetic, but it was not until one night during my second-grade year when we practiced with flash cards that she witnessed the reality of my disability for the first time.” (Abeel.16) My Thirteenth Winter, written by Samantha Abeel is a memoir describing the author’s adolescent years with dyscalculia, a severe brain disability, making it impossible to do mathematical calculations. Throughout her elementary school years, Abeel finds it easy to hide her disability that she just found out of, but when she reached algebra courses there was no escaping of her incapacity. As one can see, Samantha also explains her feeling of being an outsider, as she was never accepted in gifted programs. She was a decent student in all classes, except math. Furthermore, Samantha Abeel ironically detested English class; copying and correcting sentences for the whole period bored her, however one day the teacher, Mrs. Pratt, gave a new assignment to the class. It was where Samantha discovered writing. She had to write a paragraph concerning a picture of a turtle, as it was corrected, she was proud of her work, even though it had many grammar mistakes. Afterwards, Abeel started to write and publish some of her work on a magazine. Conclusively, My Thirteenth Winter is not only a biography; it is a reference book to kids all over the world with the same or different disability. Throughout the story, Samantha demonstrates that she is a hero by simply writing about her experience. Penning her life and sharing it to the world is the act of heroism as children around the world suffer from mental illness and need to be guided by a person feeling the same way. In the memoir, Abeel is mostly lonely, when she wrote her biography; she showed an act of bravery, therefore she is a hero for many. Furthermore, Samantha Abeel revealed her timid and anxious personality and persona as she wrote, several times, about lonely times during recess and class. Abeel is also secretive since when she was in elementary school she didn’t talk about her disability to anyone, but when she reached algebra courses it became obvious. As one can see, Samantha is a survivor as she was able to live as a normal girl, until her thirteenth winter. Not only is she a fighter, but she has a positive soul as she thought of things optimistically, most of the time, and that she never gave up. Additionally, the lesson revealed in this memoir is that no matter how despondent you are, life will get better and nothing can stop you expressing your feelings and being independent. Conclusively, Samantha Abeel is positive, she is a survivor, but most importantly, she is a hero. I recommend this memoir not only to students but also to teachers because it shows how a child views life and school. By reading this memoir, teachers will understand students and will be able to comprehend that not all high achieving students are perfect. In addition, students will know what it feels like for a child with dyscalculia or even dyslexia, to struggle with their learning abilities. Furthermore, kids take what they do for granted and this biography shows that the reader should be thankful of something as easy as remembering a locker combination. In conclusion, this memoir changed the perspective of learning for many children around the world because it has shown them that people struggle for the simple things that people can do.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hannah M

    Hannah M Block C 05.29.13 My Thirteenth Winter a memoir by Samantha Abeel. The book is about a 25 year old woman telling her story and how she struggled with dyslexia. Throughout the story she starts off with herself as a child, how everyone saw her as a perfect straight A student with no struggles or issues. In Kindergarten she was a bright student with a great attitude, with great friends. As she got older she changed into being socially awkward, and only showed her bright side at home. First gra Hannah M Block C 05.29.13 My Thirteenth Winter a memoir by Samantha Abeel. The book is about a 25 year old woman telling her story and how she struggled with dyslexia. Throughout the story she starts off with herself as a child, how everyone saw her as a perfect straight A student with no struggles or issues. In Kindergarten she was a bright student with a great attitude, with great friends. As she got older she changed into being socially awkward, and only showed her bright side at home. First grade she was always emotional, and was struggling with reading and fractions. This is where it all starts, first grade math and reading. As she progressed to fourth grade she was able to test for the Talented and Gifted program. She obviously knew there was no point on taking the test with her grades being extremely low in Math and English. By this point Samantha couldn’t understand numbers not one bit, telling time, counting money, getting to other classes. Transitioning into seventh grade (junior high) was the hardest year for Samantha, she had to learn her locker combination, learn how to tell time, and deal with a regular Algebra class. She hasn’t really told anybody how hard math is for her, she feels really embarrassed about it and doesn’t really look at it as a big deal. For English, she seems to being doing a lot better, well the concept of it at least. She has fallen in love with writing, so in love she even wrote a book. She wrote a book about her Learning Disability (LD) and how it’s affected her, all in poems. The book ended up getting published over the end of her eighth grade year beginning of her ninth grade year. The book “Reach for the Moon” won a bunch of awards, and pushed tons of people to learn and deal with their learning disabilities. “I was energized by the wonderful effect my book and my story was having on people. It was more than I had hoped for. I had felt so connected to so many who had experiences and feelings similar to mine. Now, perfect strangers of all ages were opening up and trusting me with their most private life stories and struggles and, by sharing my story, the lives of others were being changed.” (Abeel 115) This book was really touching and really different from fictional stories I normally read. It seems like having dyslexia is a real struggle to overcome, but it doesn’t seem impossible. Samantha Abeel taught me to never give up, trying is always worth it. “I have had peace with the concept that I will always be working within myself to accept how my learning disability affects me as the circumstances in my life change.” (Abeel 202) I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. I never really thought that I would like a biography book, but this one was different. It taught me lessons that I should have already been taught.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dan Rogers

    hen Samantha Abeel began kindergarten she looked and acted like any typical student, willing and eager to learn. As she progressed through the early years of school she gained a reputation among her classmates and friends as being a very intelligent child. Yet, inside Samantha didn't feel so. Yes, she knew she was smart in writing, but why couldn't she get it, like all her friends when it came to math? As she saw her friends easily understand seemingly easy things like addition, subtraction, and hen Samantha Abeel began kindergarten she looked and acted like any typical student, willing and eager to learn. As she progressed through the early years of school she gained a reputation among her classmates and friends as being a very intelligent child. Yet, inside Samantha didn't feel so. Yes, she knew she was smart in writing, but why couldn't she get it, like all her friends when it came to math? As she saw her friends easily understand seemingly easy things like addition, subtraction, and telling time, she couldn't understand what was wrong and why she was so different from everyone else. The further along in school years she progressed the further and further she was falling behind which then affected her life outside of school. Soon she found that many of her friends no longer understood her and some even chose to no longer be friends with her. Finally, in the summer between her 7th and 8th grade years an answer was found, she had a learning disability. This well written, personal account of the challenges she faced with the resulting highs and lows encountered was both captivating and emotional. As a teacher, this may well be one of the most important, and life-changing books I have ever read. Having previously encountered students who struggle academically, I was quite amazed by how a student with challenges such as the ones Samantha struggled with was able to "keep it together" in school and not let anyone know or see how difficult things really were for her. It has also caused me to wonder if maybe I've had students like Samantha and not even recognized that they are struggling. I was also angered at times by the indifference of "the system" which wouldn't allow for differences just because "the tests don't indicate that she has a problem." Thank goodness for a parent who was adamant and unwilling to take no for an answer. I smiled, I cried, and I got angry as I read this book. But what I hope to take away most of all from this book is a desire to look closer, dig deeper, and wonder more when I see students struggle. In my opinion this book should be required reading for every teacher. Students may also benefit from knowing Samantha's story as they may possibly have friends with similar difficulties. Who knows, maybe they are struggling themselves. This book may well give others the inspiration and motivation necessary to seek the help they it. My biggest takeaway from this book are expressed best in the words of the author herself "We all come in unique packages with strengths and weaknesses, and somewhere there is a precious gift in all of us. I was blessed to have parents, mentors, and teachers who nurtured mine. No matter how difficult or complex the person in front of us may be, I have learned never to stop looking for his or her gift, as those around me never stopped looking for mine."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    As a person that has never struggled with a learning disability, nor have I had close friends who suffered from even diagnosed ADD, I found Samantha Abeel's memoir to be an eye-opening experience. While every education class I've taken always had a brief section on LDs, never did it seem as detrimental to a student's learning as Abeel made it sound. I completely understood when she wrote about struggling with math, but the inability to understand the concept of time blew my mind. Throughout the As a person that has never struggled with a learning disability, nor have I had close friends who suffered from even diagnosed ADD, I found Samantha Abeel's memoir to be an eye-opening experience. While every education class I've taken always had a brief section on LDs, never did it seem as detrimental to a student's learning as Abeel made it sound. I completely understood when she wrote about struggling with math, but the inability to understand the concept of time blew my mind. Throughout the story, I felt myself getting frustrated with the narrator and the people around her. Here was this smart and gifted student struggling to survive not only puberty, but also her pre-algebra class; and no one seemed to understand the seriousness of her struggle. The story follows the author chronologically throughout her educational life from kindergarten through college. Her prose is descriptive, although sometimes repetitive, and encapsulates her frustrations at being different from everybody else. I'm not sure this book would be a great read for everyone; while her writing does bring to life the struggles Abeel dealt with, it doesn't necessarily do so in a way that grabs the reader. Also, I wasn't a big fan of the layout of the book (wide margins, small font, the format at the beginning of every chapter), but I feel like the story inside is what's important. Abeel was lucky to have such patient and understanding parents and teachers that worked with her before she was actually diagnosed; as she entered her high school special education class, she wrote about the class being "a living example of all the school system special education horror stories I had heard," and how "teachers and administrators had given up on them, because these kids couldn't demonstrate what they had never been given - compassion, understanding, respect, love. Consequently, there was nothing to endear them to anybody, nothing to make people want to go out of their way to help them succeed" (125-126). This is the crux of her memoir; the fact that there are students slipping through the cracks because of issues we may not even know anything about. I hope I carry this book with me throughout my path as an educator in order to remind myself of the struggles some students may face in the classroom.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sydney Prescott

    My Thirteenth Winter is about a girl, named Sam, who was born with a learning disability. As she goes through life, she has many hardships; learning to read and do simple math skills is one of them. She gets tested to see if she qualifies for a lower level class but her scores were not low enough. She tries so hard to adapt to this LD but its too much for her to handle. Her social life takes a dive and she isn’t eating as much as she should because she gets horrible stomach aches from anxiety. My Thirteenth Winter is about a girl, named Sam, who was born with a learning disability. As she goes through life, she has many hardships; learning to read and do simple math skills is one of them. She gets tested to see if she qualifies for a lower level class but her scores were not low enough. She tries so hard to adapt to this LD but its too much for her to handle. Her social life takes a dive and she isn’t eating as much as she should because she gets horrible stomach aches from anxiety. Sam’s friends start to notice she is acting different and is slowly drifting away from the group. She stops spending the night at friends, and even stops going places without her parents. Sam expresses herself through writing and enjoys it very much. She begins to develop beautiful poems in which people love. Her moms friend is a artist and her is willing to create a book with her and her poetry. What Once Was White was soon published with her writing to go along with his paintings. It began to sell rapidly, where people felt what she felt, the difficulties with LD’s. Sam Abeel was then touring to different places to speak and sign her books. Sam had just graduated from high school and was on her way to college. She loved it so much at first: she had friends, good classes for the first semester and was happy. The second semester came and she had so many classes and so much homework she got overwhelmed and really depressed. She decided to go home on her break and her mom took her to a doctor. She was diagnosed depressed and they put her on some meds to help. After a couple days she began to feel energetic and happier then ever. She did anything any normal college student did. She graduated from college 3 years later and looked at life with a different better perspective. I really enjoyed this book because I realized that some people have a lot of struggle just trying to get through the day at school. It made me feel like I needed to help, but I knew I couldn’t. I wish all people with a learning disability could read this so they know there’s hope and they aren’t the only one going through this.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bailey

    My Thirteenth Winter A Memoir by Samantha Abeel is the best memoir I have ever read. I have not read a lot of of memoirs but this is one I will read again and again. It is a very good at telling you what happens in her life and not boring you at the same time and that was really amazing to me. In this book the main character Sam has dyscalculia that really controlled her life until she fights to get herself in special education class. Most of her teachers disagree but they do get her in. Before My Thirteenth Winter A Memoir by Samantha Abeel is the best memoir I have ever read. I have not read a lot of of memoirs but this is one I will read again and again. It is a very good at telling you what happens in her life and not boring you at the same time and that was really amazing to me. In this book the main character Sam has dyscalculia that really controlled her life until she fights to get herself in special education class. Most of her teachers disagree but they do get her in. Before anything though she has problems that literally keep her from doing anything fun and interesting like a normal kid and teenager do. She really struggles with normal things like eating. Her family makes her feel bad and isolated they make her feel worse while they are trying to make it better. “ My family doesn’t understand what’s wrong or why I do the things I do.” ( abeel 68) My Thirteenth Winter A Memoir by Samantha Abeel is an amazing book that I will read and want everyone else to read. I love this book and I really thought I was not going to like it because they are usually boring and they have way too many facts. She makes this book really fun and interesting she makes it look into her life, but she makes it seem kind of like a story she wrote about her life. I love how she really does want to know how hard it was for her to do math and other things because of her learning disability. I was very happy to read this book after I got into it. I am not a book person at all but this is a great story and really to did like how she tells her story. She tells it with such passion and depth and I was proud to read her book. My Thirteenth Winter A Memoir by Samantha Abeel I would give this story a five out of five for her amazing effort to make this story interesting and a fun read. Sam really made this a fun book that everyone should because she wants everyone to have something to stand on like this book. She wants everyone to know her story and all that she knows.I want anyone with a delay or learning disability to read this book and love it just like I did. I really do believe this book deserves a 5 out of 5.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jill Crosby

    Samantha Abeel, like many other people, suffers from a learning disability tagged "dyscalculia" where the patient has difficulty mastering abstract concepts like time, location, symbolic value (e.g. Money), etc. having been so inflicted myself, I was eager to read about the everyday struggles Abeel went through in achieving her epiphany that "I've mastered this problem, and here's how I did it." While she was able to articulate her feelings of inadequacy in the face of required math, science, an Samantha Abeel, like many other people, suffers from a learning disability tagged "dyscalculia" where the patient has difficulty mastering abstract concepts like time, location, symbolic value (e.g. Money), etc. having been so inflicted myself, I was eager to read about the everyday struggles Abeel went through in achieving her epiphany that "I've mastered this problem, and here's how I did it." While she was able to articulate her feelings of inadequacy in the face of required math, science, and language courses, that's where my experience and hers diverged; while I continued to be beaten down by my fleet-of-mind classmates in mastering concepts like "the multiplication of fractions" (who needs to multiply fractions, anyway? And more to the point---why?), I was not given an opportunity to write a book at 15, then tour the US on a whirlwind speaking & book-signing tour. Nor did my parents feel that advocacy was required on my behalf. If I wasn't understanding math, it was because I wasn't trying hard enough or was too impatient to understand what I needed to do. I was not taken around the US interviewing at colleges with programs or support systems for people like me, and once in college, was advised to avoid classes with math because my background was lacking. I'm not sure if you realize this, but nearly EVERY profession that pays well and promises an employable future REQUIRES an understanding of mathematical principles. This led to me being relegated to a career of teaching high school English, because education, journalism, social work, and law are about the only degrees available for someone who cannot divide 1/3 by 1/2 or figure 57% of 65. I have spent a lifetime mismatched to a career I cannot stand, because I was unfortunate enough to be born in a place and time where learning disabilities were made-up excuses for somebody too dumb to master the basics. So Sam Abeel's experiences as an Ivy League Seven Sisters grad (with honors), an international student studying in Israel, and a published poet & author, did not connect with my understanding of my own disability in any way.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Gilmore

    Samantha Abeel has a lifetime of experiences and stories she has shared with us through the memoir, My Thirteenth Winter. We get to hear her story from first grade through college and how she chose to handle it. Abeel has inspired many and has left a mark on our world. “Sometimes a challenge can be an inspiration.” Sam was diagnosed with dyscalculia, but not until her thirteenth winter, not until she already knew she was different. Throughout school she started to realize that she couldn't spell Samantha Abeel has a lifetime of experiences and stories she has shared with us through the memoir, My Thirteenth Winter. We get to hear her story from first grade through college and how she chose to handle it. Abeel has inspired many and has left a mark on our world. “Sometimes a challenge can be an inspiration.” Sam was diagnosed with dyscalculia, but not until her thirteenth winter, not until she already knew she was different. Throughout school she started to realize that she couldn't spell as well as the other kids, tell time, remember a locker combination, or count change. Sam was afraid of what was “wrong” with her, so she kept in all the emotions and escaped into her world of writing and poetry. This got harder as she moved into junior high and high school. She was put into alternative classes and she started to realize that her ability to write was more powerful than her disability. Throughout the years, Sam went on tours around the country to talk about her first book, Reach For The Moon. She never went out with friends because she was unable to make a daily schedule and tell how much time each event would take. In college this got more difficult. Sam didn't have her mom to help her through classes and social events. With her disability, she had anxiety attacks that led to a severe state of depression. Through all the antidepressants and counseling, Sam was able to cope with her disorder. Samantha Abeel wrote this inspiring memoir two years after college. She says, “Through my disability I have learned the power of persistence, of not giving up in the face of pain and fear. We are stronger than we think we are.” This really hits home for me. I think that anybody of any age would enjoy reading her story and how much of an impact she has made. My Thirteenth Winter makes you think that even the simplest tasks can be a struggle for some.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Trina

    From http://ldaamerica.org/types-of-learni... Dyscalculia "Affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts". The author poetically expresses what its like to not understand the world of math, time and currency. She experiences so many ups and downs and a long journey of discovering she has a learning disability, accepting it and living life with it. It is a lesser known disability that really should receive more attention, look how children who are tested and identified as From http://ldaamerica.org/types-of-learni... Dyscalculia "Affects a person’s ability to understand numbers and learn math facts". The author poetically expresses what its like to not understand the world of math, time and currency. She experiences so many ups and downs and a long journey of discovering she has a learning disability, accepting it and living life with it. It is a lesser known disability that really should receive more attention, look how children who are tested and identified as dyslexic flourish once they receive the appropriate assistance. The author's descriptions of what she could not understand was spot on! Anyone who knows me well knows I struggle with basic math, its embarrassing and humbling. While in school I lived with the terrible dichotomy of being an above average student with below average math scores. My parents went over concepts, teachers spent extra time, I even had a college student tutor me for awhile when I was in high school. No amount of "trying harder" ever made it better, I suspect many of my math teachers allowed me to "pass" on pity alone. Over the years I have adapted and technology has grown in leaps and bounds to help compensate for my lack of understanding. I have a phone app that calculates tips, I never wear an analog watch, I have several calculators on my person or within arms reach and a loving and gentle husband who never seems to get tired of "doing the math". I currently do not have a diagnosis of dyscalculia; this book came on my radar as I was looking for answers to my own struggles with math; several things line up and this book is a great jumping off point to do more research. It is the face of a limiting condition.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Autumn Skowrenski

    Autumn Skowrenski My Thirteenth Winter by Samantha Abel Genre: A memoir Samantha Abel tells the miraculous story of her life with a math related learning disability. She did very well in all of her other classes, so her parents and teachers couldn't understand why she couldn't grasp the concept of math. So, she is kept out of advanced classes and remedial classes. This book tells the tale of her life before and after being diagnosed with dyslexia and her changing as she got older. By seventh grade Autumn Skowrenski My Thirteenth Winter by Samantha Abel Genre: A memoir Samantha Abel tells the miraculous story of her life with a math related learning disability. She did very well in all of her other classes, so her parents and teachers couldn't understand why she couldn't grasp the concept of math. So, she is kept out of advanced classes and remedial classes. This book tells the tale of her life before and after being diagnosed with dyslexia and her changing as she got older. By seventh grade, her panic attacks had gotten so bad that from not remembering her locker combination to not being able to stay overnight at a friend's. As she became older, she looked at this can't as a can and really made a difference to so many different people. My Thirteenth Winter is one of the most inspirational books I have ever read because I can't imagine this being a true story, and that many people who do have dyslexia have it tough. It's just what Samantha chose to make out of the solution. She held her head up high and shared her story, hoping to bring awareness. I find this truly amazing. I would recommend this book to anyone who thinks they have it hard right now. I hope that by reading this book, they understand that there is always someone who is suffering worse. Its not the situation, it's what you make of it. Honestly, I don't know any books that are like this in anyway that made me stop and think like My Thirteenth Winter.

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