My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir

My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir

by Samantha Abeel

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781606862094
Publisher: Perfection Learning Corporation
Publication date: 01/28/2005
Pages: 203
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Samantha Abeel was a gifted child who excelled at language arts, yet she often had trouble with seemingly simple math problems. In her seventh-grade creative writing class, Samantha found refuge from the endless classes focused on math, measurements and algebra. When her parents enlisted the aid of an English teacher to help Samantha focus on her strength by creating writing assignments to be critiqued, she began the project that would become her first book, Reach for the Moon.

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My Thirteenth Winter 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
LeanneS7A More than 1 year ago
My Thirteenth Winter by Samantha Abeel is an inspiring memoir about a girl who goes through the struggles of having a learning disability. Sam was a great student in school, until she starts to have problems in some of the major subjects like math, she has problems computing the math problems, Sam also had trouble with telling time and telling a part different colors. Her mom always sticks by her and goes through all of the steps of learning how to live with her disability. Samantha writes how in the beginning, she was able to cope with the feeling of being "dumb" and a "failure", but when she comes across some great experiences and some accomplishments she feels like a winner. I would give Samantha Abeel's My Thirteenth Winter four out of five stars because she did an amazing job in capturing her feeling's and her struggles with her learning disabilities. My Thirteenth Winter won an Schneider Family Book award. Her book would probably be best for people ages ten and up, because some younger children might not get what is going on during some of the book, like how Sam feels, also when she can't tell time and how she feels when everyone that was in her class can tell the time easier then her. My Thirteenth Winter helped me understand what a learning disability was and how it not only affects the person who has it but also the people around them. I never understood how hard it was to have a learning disability until I read this book.
awiltenburg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Overall this book is a look into the brain and life of a student with undiagnosed learning disabilities. I can appreciate the struggles she shares and the frustrations she feels as she tries repeatedly and fails repeatedly. She also writes of her small victories, attitudes towards LD students and classes, loneliness b/c of success in one area of life yet failure in another area. This book could have been reduced by half and still well communicated her point. I think this book would be reserved for an older reader probably 8th+ grade b/c of its length. It was also consistently a sad read so I felt a little like I was hanging on for a nice tied knot to end the story but not so. Grades 8+
Kathdavis54 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Samantha always felt different in school. Sometimes she felt smarter, sometimes she felt dumb. This young girl has a learning disability that took much of her school career to diagnose. As someone who wants to pursue a career in education, I found this book so important to my education. Few of my classes in undergraduate or graduate work have focused much on learning disabilities--so much so that I find myself nervous about having to teach students with them one day. This book showed that at the very least if I care and notice that a student is trouble that is a step. I can help them. This book would also be an eye-opener for younger readers. They need to see the real thoughts of a student who is struggling, but does something about it. Luckily, Samantha found her strength in school. All students need to do that to build their self-esteem. Being good at everything is rare and is not the norm.
mrcmyoung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was glad to learn about the effects of dyscalculia but had trouble, as I usually do, with the teenage memoir aspects and the self-absorbed tone that usually accompanies that genre. This book is an important reminder that many students can be suffering in silence with a learning disability, as well as how ill-equipped our public school system is to deal with them.
rosesaurora on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We all want to be the best--And when our identity is so wrapped up in being the smartest kid in the class, what happens when the smart kid can't tell time or do simple addition and subtraction? What happens when she is suddenly thrust into a school system unwilling and frequently incapable of accommodating her gifted talents coupled with her learning disabilities? It contradicts our idea of how education works and thus she is left in the middle; to endlessly struggle with math classes and devastatingly bored in her other classes.Eventually the book becomes quite annoying as she drones on about how she is meant to be different and suffer because she is the heroine of her own story. She is meant to be misunderstood and alone. While teenagers will relate to this very well, it is still hard to get through all the way to the realization that she also suffers from depression. And once the grey is lifted her life seems much brighter even with her personal day-to-day struggles.I think this is great for a psychology class, a social studies class, and an english class. It would be amazing for a math class but I have never had a math teacher assign homework that was not in the form of answering math problems straight from the book so I cannot be entirely sure a math classroom like that exists.
Michelle_Bales on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story of one family's dealings with a daughter's dyscalculia is unique and touching, but I felt this book was a bit slow moving. I found the first narration followed by Samantha's journal entries to be a bit redundant. I think they should have been combined somehow. I did learn a lot about what a child who is challenged by disability yet also gifted goes through. I think this book will help me to be a more informed and empathetic teacher. The actual book, Reach for the Moon, in which Abeel collaborates with Charles R. Murphy is beautiful and inspiring.
agiffin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My Thirteenth Winter tells a story that needs to be told and heard in math and gifted education today. Dyscalculia is one of the less commonly known learning disabilities that may afflict students today, but for math teachers in particular, it is essential that they be educated about this disability. This book is an excellent, in-depth, personal, and touching account of one girl's struggles with dyscalculia. However, if a teacher wanted to learn solely about the effects of dyscalculia, I would offer a word of caution in using this book as the sole means to begin to understand it. There is so much more to Samantha Abeel's story than simply dyscalculia; there are many forces at work in the struggles she faces, including being both gifted and learning disabled, as well as struggling with perfectionism, a common characteristic of gifted children. Having studied all of these characteristics or disabilities, I feel I was able to better understand the many elements affecting her, whereas someone without this knowledge might become confused as to what characteristics are attributed to the dyscalculia alone and what stem from her giftedness. Nonetheless, this is an excellent account that teachers can take to heart when considering both gifted and learning disabled children--I would definitely recommend this book for any mathematics or gifted teacher!
abbrown1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a compelling, heartfelt story about a young girl who describes herself as normal until she starts to notice that that she does not handle numbers like many of her classmates. On the ways her math disablity displays itself is in her piano lessons. Her instructor notices that she plays the pieces well until she has to play them from different starting points. Because the instructor knows that math and music are closely related, she helps Samantha embark on her journey to discovering what causes her troubles. More importantly, Samantha's journey helps her find a solution, confidence, and self, and the courage to write a beautiful story that explores her mind, like a diary, through her stages of self discovery.
MattRaygun on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Samantha Abeel has accomplished much in her young life. At thirteen, she already had an award-winning book of poetry published and was a respected speaker at conventions across the country. By the age of twenty-five, her award-winning biography was a best-seller. Samantha Abeel, however, is learning-disabled. She suffers not only from a disability that prevents her from understanding the basics of math, time, and money, but also from the misconceptions that arise from her diagnosis. "Not you! You look completely normal!", her teachers would say. Even as Samantha, in her book "My Thirteenth Winter", struggles with her own condition, she struggles with an ill-informed school system and public that refuses to acknowledge she has a learning disability just because she looks and acts "normal". Samantha is a brilliant writer, a poet, classified as gifted, and is, in general, a bright, articulate student. But underneath her calm exterior, she is drowning in a sea of doubt and anxiety. Early in her schooling, she discovers that she doesn't understand clocks or the most simple equations and panics whenever she has to use money. Her anxiety builds until she loses sleep, develops headaches, and ultimately begins to suffer from severe depression. She is in a deep spiral of shame and guilt. Not only does she not understand math, she doesn't understand why she doesn't understand.This book dramatically catalogs her struggle to achieve recognition for her brilliance as a student while fighting to discover what is at the bottom of her anxiety and ultimately, her learning disorder. The book is more than a biography, it is a guide for those readers who have little to no experience with learning disabilities. The author struggles with the misconception that because she is diagnosed as LD, that she must be a barely functioning person- that she be mentally invalid. "My Thirteenth Winter" rather poetically defends the many learning-disabled adults that are wrongly thought of as "stupid", when they are in fact intelligent, passionate, functioning members of society with something to contribute.This book is heartwarming, poetic, and eye-opening. It is, without question, "an important book". It is, however, in great need of better editing. There is much in the first 50 pages that could be cut without losing the feel of the author's voice or its message. There are paragraphs and paragraphs of self-deprecation and pity and this causes the book to drag much in the beginning.This book does a wonderful job of challenging notions of what is considered "normal" in a society where 1 in 10 adults are diagnosed with a learning disability. Samantha Abeel is, admittedly, incredibly lucky to have parents who care enough to involve themselves in her struggles and a teacher that believes in her. "My Thirteenth Winter" is a wake-up call to every teacher, administrator, and parent that has a student that struggles in school, especially ones that struggle with the label "learning disabled".I recommend this book for ages 12 & Up.
scnelson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the very harrowing story of an intelligent young girl's battle with a severe learning disability that kept her from recognizing patterns in numbers and objects such as clocks. It is told in her own words, switching from a third-person narrative to a detailed first person account. Abeel helps to challenge the perception that many have of the learning disabled and even what that term means in some cases. That someone seemingly so smart could have such a hard time with something like telling time should make everyone stop and think about how they perceive the world around them. Reading this in a school setting would help to perhaps bring to light a student's own problems with certain aspects of learning as well as make the "normal" kids think about how they view and treat students in special programs within their school.
kmcinern on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I believe that dyscalculia is a condition unfamiliar to many students, as it was to me, so I believe this text would be helpful in teaching students about something new. However, I question how many students may be emotionally involved in reading this text. As I read, I found Abel to become redundant and almost whiny at times and found myself skipping ahead to find a more active portion of the text. I do not see myself using this text as part of a middle or high school curriculum.
tiffanylewis0519 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As an educator, I experienced many emotions while reading this memoir. I am not a math person, so I identified with the anxiety the author felt as she struggled with school. As an English teacher, I was proud to read of English class being a safe place, where there was more to writing than grammar rules. A quote by the author in the introduction poignantly sums up the theme, "This book was written as a celebration of the simultaneous brilliance and imperfection that comes with being human."
rwilliamson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Samantha Abeel¿s story of an undiagnosed learning disability is unfortunately not unique. What is unique is her ability to describe what life is like as a gifted student with dyscalculia, a math disability. As a special education teacher this book resonated with me. I remember the frustration of being told that students needed to fail before they could be helped. Thankfully that model of special education has changed. I also encountered (thankfully only two or three) teachers who did not understand learning disabilities and would not believe that a student could be gifted and disabled. Therefore these teachers would refuse to make accommodations for students. I will definitely share it with other teachers, parents, and a few former students. This book should be required reading for all pre-service teachers. I would also recommend they read Temple Grandin¿s Thinking in Pictures. The audience for this book is probably 7th grade and up. Therefore it doesn¿t really apply to my current students. I would definitely pair this book with Abeel's book of poetry, This book might be part of a biography unit, students could read biographies that emphasize teenaged subjects. The type in the edition I read was annoyingly small.
kharding on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a coming of age story of a girl growing up with a learning disability. While reading about Samatha's development I could find myself relating to many of the things she experienced- from wanting teacher's approval in lower grades, social anxiety in middle school and the new overwhelming changes in both high school and college. I couldn't imagine on top of these developmental challenges also suffering from a learning disability such as Samantha's. Throughout this story Samantha seems to face so many ups and downs, I was anxious to find out the happy ending to her story. I couldn't believe that it turned out to be such simple things that made her life easier- self-recognition of her disability, diagnosis with depression (which seemed as a reader of her story so obvious), and simple organizational strategies (such as making an agenda.) It perplexed me that the supportive people in Samantha's life were not able to give her these tools earlier. This story makes it apparent that there is only so much support out there for students with learning disabilities. Reading this book made me wonder about so many of my students, some who have diagnosed learning disabilities, others who may or may not have disabilities but are regardless, several years behind grade level. This book gives me insight into the anxiety and pressure they must feel. While I was a relatively well-rounded student, I remember having difficulties in math and I remember feeling frustrated when other students got it and I didn't. I can't imagine what it is like for my students who are severely behind or behind in every class. However, this book doesn't leave me with an idea as to what I can do as a teacher to make these students feel more comfortable. I am also left wondering if this book would be effective enough for others with learning disabilities? Based on the reactions to her first book, it seems as though just hearing another persons story gives the reader courage. I would be curious to know this books impact, as well as how services for learning disabled have improved since Samatha's youth.
wackermt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I began reading, I was really enjoying this story, and discussed it with some colleagues in the English department at my school. As I continued, I found that I liked it less and less, until I reached a point where I wanted to stop reading. My Thirteenth Winter starts out as a story about a young girl who overcomes her learning disability, but as it progresses, she explains that she never overcame it, and so the message of the book is don't try, its futile, instead work to create a world in which other people have to accommodate for you. When she was placed in special education math, I thought the message would be that once she found a place she could be confident, she would begin to find success, but instead it was just a place where she wasn't actually expected to improve. I kept expecting her to work up the courage to be social, and her inability to do so seemed to suggest that its okay to not face your fears or do what deep down you want, because you are scared. I did not particularly enjoy her style either, she kept making claims about being wise, and being an excellent writer, but I didn't see the evidence in her writing or her message. The book flashes in between her 25 year old self discussing her situation, and her old self experiencing situations, which I think was a good idea because the first hand accounts would be a useful tool, except that I didn't find many of them to be particularly engaging.
amclellan0908 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Abeel explores a painful time in her life: being 13 and diagnosed with a learning disability. Her specific learning disability, dyscalculia, caused terrible anxiety with time telling, the use of a combination lock, and math class. While learning disabled in one area, Abeel found comfort in her writing. Encouraged by a teacher, Samantha published a collection of her writing, accompanied by the water color paintings of a family friend. Eventually, Samantha becomes a voice for learning disabilities, and the challenges she faced as a student inspired others. After a dark period in her life, she begins to experience success, graduation from both high school and college.I think secondary students would love the book. First, the memoir is written by someone who is young, and since students rarely read authors close to their own age, I think they'd enjoy reading someone who published at their age. Secondly, I think many students could identify with Sam's struggle with her learning disability because her writing gives their own hardship a voice. I could integrate this book into a memoir unit, using it as a central text to teach the concept of memoir while having students write one of their own.
jamiesque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My Thirteenth Winter is the stroy of a young girl afflicted with a disability called dyscalculia. While the book does seem overdramatic at times, it is the overly self-conscious, inner thoughts with which many young people, especially girls, can identify. The story is told in two tenses/voices: past by an adult Abeel and present tense by a young Abeel. The present tense telling is of incidents in the past, yet it is written as though it is occuring in real time. The real time passages are written in italics, signaling to the reader that a change in tense/perspective is occuring. These italizied passages are of great value. They are stream-of-consciousness unabashedly exposing the psyche of the author while simultaneously introducing a good example of stylized writing . While the book is about Sam Abeel's struggle with a disability, the sentiments she expresses are not relegated to those with disabilities. "I felt like a strange outsider everywhere, and I began to beat myself up internally for not being more like my friends, and for being afraid all the time...I began to feel even more insecure and unsure...I continued to scold myself for not being like everyone else." This statement can be true for anyone who is on the fringes of social norms, or perceives themselves as such. Abeel also captures the agony of what it is like to constantly obsess as to how you are being percieved by others. Social outcasts, young people with depression, anxiety or insecurity issues, along with anyone else outside the peramaters of the "norm" may spend inordinate amounts of time and effort concerned with the opinions of others. Wheather it is an interaction with a stranger at a store counter or hiding something from a friend, the wearing feeling of seeing reality through the eyes of others is brilliantly illustrated, "all my movements seem exaggerated, awkward. I feel as if I am on stage, like I don't belong, as if everyone is staring at me and judging me." This is a sentiment that will ring true for a variety of students. While not wanting to dismiss Abeel's disability, creating a commonality between author and reader will go a long way in stimuating understanding and a sense of connectivity.
harriewatson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This a book I am sharing with mothers of learning disabled students I have tutored. If this book were fiction, I would dismiss the prose as too melodramatic. As an autobiograhy it offers amazing insight into the mind and self-awareness of this very seriously affected young person. Her young age contributed to the "slightly less than professional" quality of the writing. The very worthwhile trade-off to this aspect is the remarkable window offered into the prolonged suffering and amazing resilience this young woman shares with the reader. Had she waited much longer to write this, it is possible that she would have lost touch with the immediacy of her pre-adolescence difficulties maintaining friendships despite her panic and depressive disorders. It is true that her disabilies caused her to hone her observation skills for survival. She had to learn to read signals about classmate's restlessness since she couldn't tell time. She had to evaluate the expressions and body language of cashiers since she couldn't count money. These skills have allowed Sam to write some the best accounts of the entirely "reasonable seeming" visceral contortions she experienced while trying to sooth her way through a panic attack I have ever read. For example, the cold water would sooth her firey stomach, provided that the cold water found her stomach empty. That can sound reasonable until the reader realizes that these are the sort of "magical thinking" paradigms a person develops to attempt to control a situation that is really out of control already. Her descriptions of her rituals are so enlightening in understanding what a terror panic attacks are. I was completely shocked at her late diagnosis of depression, because any individual suffering from panic attacks and the stresses of her degree of disability would have made her extremely susceptable to depression. I was shocked that it took so long for clinicians, counselors, educators to think that depression might be an issue. She had probably been depressed since early school years. After years of depression, the brain probably resets itd default state as depression. At the end of the book she described a period of apathy that was probably a serotonin overload that improved with medication change. Sam's brain sounds so unique, I suspect that an anti-depressant will probably work well for a while and then give side effects causing frequent medication changes. All in all Sam is a remarkable young woman the same age as my children and my heart aches for her and for her mother especially. I am grateful she has had the courage to share her story and gifts.
NathanielLouisWood on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This moving story describes one girls life in an educational system that mislabeled her. Because of this mislabeling she suffered great stress at trying to fit in academically in subjects like math and grammar. Her journey is very emotionally charged, but it gives the reader perspective on the issue of identifying students with disabilities and the very real effect that that proses has on them.
KeithMaddox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a somewhat tedious, very interesting, and grippingly descriptive memoir by poet Samantha Abeel, who has overcome a debilitating learning disorder by becoming a successful poet. She is a very intelligent person who is almost incapable of the sequential reasoning necessary to play music or use numbers, for example, to read a clock. The memoir documents how the adults responsible for her education made poor decisions regarding the special education resources that were available to her. Since she was gifted and had a learning disability, it was decided that the difference would be "split" and she would follow the normal track. This meant she was bored and terrified, that she was not challenged and daily faced tasks she could not succeed at. Abeel's writing is very descriptive and causes the reader to empathize with her. This makes this book useful to a special ed teacher, or perhaps for anyone who will deal with special ed students (which would include most students in today's inclusive classroom). Her description of her depression, and of her resourcefulness in responding to an impossible situation, is very clear, which is a feat for someone whose education experience was probably very different from Abeel's. I found her description of dyscalculia was a little less clear. If I was instructing a student with dyscalculia in math, I feel that this book would not be to helpful in demarcating what to do and what not to do. However, it would be useful in describing for me what it would be like to be a student with dyscalculia. In other words, I would not recommend this book to someone who wants to understand the effects of dyscalculia on sequential thinking, though I would recommend it for someone who wants to understand its effects on being a student in general. This book would be useful in understanding students with special needs in general, as it can be read so empathetically. A student poet may enjoy reading this book, as it demonstrates how powerful writing can be, for the poet as well as the reader. If there was a classroom with enough time, this book could be read to give students an idea of how important numbers are to life. Really I could see a sixth grade math class (because this is the only age where students may know already sense the significance of numbers, yet could understand the scope of the memoir), or some kind of math appreciation class (though a book about someone who is good with numbers would perhaps be more appropriate). More realistically, parts of this book could be incorporated into a math class or a special ed class. This could be a very interesting perspective for students. The problem with this book is its length and repetitiveness, and that is the central difficulty with incorporating it into the curriculum. Thus selecting excerpts and using them creatively may balance the strengths and weaknesses, making this an enriching contribution to the classroom.
chelsea6273 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"My Thirteenth Winter" by Samantha Abeel depicts one girl's struggle with going through life with the learning disorder, dyscalculia, and her ultimate success despite her differences in ability. Samantha Abeel is qualified to write such a book because she wrote about her own experiences with dyscalculia. The book is organized chronologically, beginning with her memories of school as a young girl, wanting to always show off her intelligence and please her teacher. The author has an interesting writing style, as she wrote the book when she was young. I would recommend this book to young readers for two reasons: (a) It is not-your-average overcome a disability story, and (b) because it would enlighten youngsters about the reality of living with a learning disorder.
kratzerliz23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book enlightening when I read it. As a math teacher and lover of math I never have had difficulty with math, but reading about Samantha's ordeal made me think about different ways I could help some of the students in the classes I teach. I did find the book not very enjoyable to read because I did not like the way the text styles kept changing back and forth. It is a good book for children who struggle with a disability to read. It gives a child hope that they are not alone and help is available.
DayehSensei on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Abeel's memoir about her childhood struggles with-- and eventual triumph over-- discalculia is a stunningly poetic, unflinching portrait of a difficult adolescence. The passages where Abeel describes vivid flashbacks as if they are actually happening are particularly compelling. Abeel herself-- as a person and as a character-- remind me very much of Laurie Halse Anderson's Melinda Sortino in "Speak." Both girls suffer from impairments caused by an event or condition; both turn inward and create art as a response. This book would be an excellent choice for a middle or high school English class-- it's as much a lesson in self esteem and peer acceptance as it is in perseverence and the creative process. I'm simply in awe of Abeel's writing.
JLCasanova on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells the story of Samantha and her difficulties with school. Even though she is considered very creative and gifted, Samantha still struggles with simple math concepts and spelling. With all of her struggles, she is still able to achieve many things such as writing and publishing a book and studying abroad. This is a very inspirational story and shows that with determination, great things are possible. English teachers can incorporate this book by having students analyze some of the poetry that is scattered throughout the book. Math teachers can use this book to inspire students who are struggling with math concepts. In fact, any teacher can use this book to motivate students who struggle. While I am not really sure about using the book for classroom instruction, it could be used to create discussions about how people are perceived by their peers, how people perceive themselves, and how anxiety affects people. Teachers could also use this book for their own personal reading because it shows how students can be misdiagnosed. Samantha's teachers did not think she had a learning disability because she was also gifted. This shows teachers that it is possible for students to excel in one ability but struggle in another ability. The book has a simple style and at times can be repetitive, like when she talks about how people responded to her book; however, it is easy to understand. It follows chronological order beginning with starting kindergarten and ending with graduating from college. The book also has an introduction and an afterword that give her perspective as a twenty-five year old looking back at her experiences. The book has no table of contents, index, or bibliography. The chapters start by using large font that is centered. This is to engage and capture the attention of the reader. Abeel also uses italicized print to show where she flashes back to events in her past. While there is no information on the cover of the book explaining Abeel's experience as a writer, the reader can assume that the book is accurate because it is a biography on her own life. I am not sure that I would recommend this book to teachers for classroom instruction, but I can see teachers recommending it to students who they feel are struggling. I would also recommend it to faculty members so that they can have discussions about labeling students and about learning disabilities. I would purchase this book for my library.
bpoche on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My Thirteenth Winter is the memoir of Samantha Abeel, a young poet/author living with a learning disability and the anxiety, depression, fear, and even denial that accompanied it. Samantha begins her story early in childhood and details the noticed differences she finds as she grows and begins to establish meaningful relationships. Anxiety and fear plague her as she struggles to understand and hide her difficulties with everyday tasks such as telling time. Her love for writing becomes apparent as she uses it to expose her emotions, and she has great success as a young poet and advocate for the learning disabled. She finds great value in her own discovery and the discoveries of others. Throughout adolescence and college, Samantha continues to struggle with her disability, and the reader certainly gains a sense of her immense strength during these difficult times. Many young people would find this book inspirational as they attempt to establish their own identities, and the ability of Samantha to reach out for help; however reluctant, shows that there are people who do care about your well-being and value the contributions you can make to their lives and the lives of others. I would recommend this book in any middle or high school class as an account of a childhood wraught with insecurity and loneliness due to a learning disability. PS I especially enjoyed the author's comparison of junior high and high school special education, citing a reek of hopelessness that seemed to suffocate many of the students remaining in the program throughout high school. "The system seemed to have given up on these students - and they, in turn, had given up on themselves"This was bothersome to read, especially given the author's perspective. This account also supplied a personal revelation to a future educator: With all the truth in my bones, I will not allow any student who enters my classroom to feel hopeless, disgarded, or less than.