by Samantha Abeel; New York, Orchard Books, 2005, 203 pages, $5.99 softcover
Ms. Myers is in the ninth grade at Cushing Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts.
A terrific book called My Thirteenth Winter tells the story of a girl who grows up with a learning disability in math, time, and sequencing called dyscalculia. She talks about the struggle that she has and the challenges that come with the disorder. The book also provides insight into the girl's life and her growing up. Samantha Abeel's book is for everyone. Even people who don't have a learning disability can read the book and find it meaningful. Her style of writing makes the reader feel like the author and reader are friends and that she is speaking to only the reader. The book teaches a lesson to everyone: how to overcome an obstacle and make the best out of the person you are.
The book is incredible. I found myself getting excited—finally someone had written about what I had felt for a long time, struggling with my own learning disability. I could identify feelings that the character talked about and could remember when I was going through a similar situation. It comforted me to know that I was not the only one who had gone through these problems, and reading the book made me comfortable with myself.
I would absolutely recommend this book, both to someone who has a learning disability and also to someone who doesn't know much about the toll it takes on a child's life. The book speaks for all of us and gives a great message. It is also helpful for those who provide psychiatric services, because it helps children struggling with learning disabilities to understand that they are not the only ones who have them. My only regret would be that, like Sam Abeel, I never understood I was not alone and could overcome the challenge of learning.