My Thirteenth Winter

Book review by
Pam Gelman, Common Sense Media
My Thirteenth Winter Book Poster Image
Honest story of life with learning disability.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Overcoming obstacles through support, love, maturation, and acceptance.


Mention of kids who fight.


Mention of pregnant 13-year-old student.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention of kids smoking cigarettes at school.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this memoir chronicles the author's challenges with dyscalculia, a learning disability that affects her ability to accomplish tasks related to sequential processing. This is a very personal and sometimes sad read, as the author expresses her many frustrations. But the book has little questionable content, and would be a powerful means of support for others, including parents and teachers, experiencing or wanting to learn more about learning disabilities.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byalexiskay November 20, 2012

my thirth winter summary

i think its realy boring
Parent of a 10, 12, and 13-year-old Written bymesimps1995 February 17, 2011
Teen, 13 years old Written byYour Typical Bo... January 13, 2019

Educational about mental health

I'm a tween, and I really enjoyed "My Thirteenth Winter". I do think that it is for mature audiences, not for anything inappropriate, but for lea... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAlyssa.Vanegas April 6, 2011


I think My Thirteenth Winter is a very good memoir but not so much a good book. I just feel like it's the same stuff happening,, She is okay,, then she sta... Continue reading

What's the story?

This memoir chronicles the author's challenges with dyscalculia, a learning disability that affects the ability to accomplish tasks related to sequential processing, making things like telling time, giving change, and opening a locker very difficult. Starting with her earliest memories of learning difficulties, the book continues to show the challenges on the road to her diagnosis at 13, her depression and panic attacks as she grew older, and her slow path to acceptance in college.

Is it any good?

This is a great resource of information and support for kids having experiences similar to Samantha's and ideal for readers who like books about teens overcoming challenges. Most kids take the simple things they do during the day for granted, like giving a cashier the right amount of money to buy lunch, knowing you can chat for five minutes before the next class, or opening a locker easily. These are things that terrified Samantha Abeel. It's hard enough just wanting to fit in, but add to that a profound learning disability and any kid would want to be invisible.

MY THIRTEENTH WINTER gives a detailed account of Samantha's experiences during the school years, leading up to her diagnosis through college. Life is an intense struggle for Samantha, as she honestly describes. The book ends on a realistically optimistic note regarding her future and happiness.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about different types of learning disabilities and resources that may help. Can you imagine not knowing how to schedule according to time? Why did a comment from a teacher, that she didn't look like someone with learning disabilities, bother the author so much? There can also be discussion of the means of support that helped the author: parents, teachers, counselors, therapists, and anti-depressants.

Book details

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