Saturday, March 31, 2012
My Thirteenth Winter by Samantha Abeel
My Thirteenth Winter by Samantha Abeel (Scholastic, 2007)
Summary from publisher:
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 began having anxiety attacks, losing sleep, distancing herself from friends. But in her thirteenth winter, she found the courage to confront her problems -- and was diagnosed with a math-related 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.
I picked up this book because I am trying to find memoirs to use in book clubs with my seventh graders during our memoir study. I'm having a hard time finding memoirs that are about teens that are appropriate to use in school, and when I put the question out on Twitter, this one was recommended. It was a very interesting story, one that I processed differently, depending on whether I was thinking as a parent or as a teacher.
Samantha's story of her struggle with a learning disability that crept into every part of her life is in many ways a heartbreaking one. It was hard to read about her frustrations in school and how she discovered coping mechanisms to mask most of her learning problems. I was shocked to read how so many teachers didn't realize the full extent of Samantha's learning difficulties, but then I started to think about some of my own struggling students. I began to wonder what I was missing.
I plan on ordering several copies of this book to use in book clubs. While it's not the best book I ever read, I think kids will be able to relate to Samantha's story and see how perseverance can pay off.