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My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,056 ratings  ·  253 reviews
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
Paperback, 203 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Scholastic Paperbacks (first published November 1st 2003)
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Shreya Ganguly Samantha was not put in special education classes. Instead, she received extra help in math. I, myself, have dyscalculia, a learning disability that a…moreSamantha was not put in special education classes. Instead, she received extra help in math. I, myself, have dyscalculia, a learning disability that affects my math skills. However, I earn excellent grades in English, which is my best subject. (less)

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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 ...more
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teachers, special education students, all students
Shelves: self-help, memoir
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
May 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dyscalculia
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
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: teens, teachers
Shelves: 2007
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
Mar 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009, non-fiction
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
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 20, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
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.
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 09, 2016 marked it as xx-dnf-skim-reference
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."

Jennifer Rutherford
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I read over the summer that I did not need to write a review for.
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 ...more
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 ...more
Dan Rogers
Dec 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Hannah M
Hannah M
Block C
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
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-nonfiction
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 ...more
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-drama
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 ...more
Sydney Prescott
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jill Crosby
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Morgan Gilmore
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From 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 ...more
Autumn Skowrenski
Oct 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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Samantha has a degree in English from Mount Holyoke College and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan. First published at the age of 15, her book, Reach for the Moon won the 1994 Margot Marek Award for best book on the subject of learning disabilities, the Distinguished Book Award from the International Reading Association and was named Best Book for Teen Age by the New York Pu ...more

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