Samantha Abeel was a bright child who had a gift with language, yet struggled with simple math problems. As she grew older, the disparity grew wider. An excellent poet and writer, she could not tell time or even calculate simple addition or subtraction. Though signs of a learning disability were present throughout her childhood, she struggled with feelings of failure until at thirteen she was finally diagnosed with a learning disability called dyscalculia. On the verge of collapse from panic attacks, she suddenly understood what was wrong. Now she could focus on developing her gifts and compensating for her weaknesses in a positive and constructive way. It was the beginning of regaining control of her life.
It was a seventh grade English teacher who helped Samantha focus on her writing skills. He began to critique what would become her first book of poetry, Reach for the Moon. Published when she was only 15 years old, Reach for the Moon won the 1994 Margot Marek Award for the best book on the subject of learning disabilities given by the New York Branch of the Orton Dyslexia Society. The book also won the Distinguished Book Award from the International Reading Association, and was names a Best Book for the Teen Age by the New York Public Library.
My Thirteenth Winter is an inspiring story of persistence and strength. As Samantha chronicles her struggle - from frustration and failure to full-scale panic attacks and depression - she also paints a picture of hope. She learns to accept who she is and to ask for help. Samantha gives special praise to those teachers who helped her cope with her learning disability with understanding and patience. As she eloquently puts it, “If you're standing in the shadow of a tree, you many need to walk to the other side to see the light it reflects.”
My Thirteenth Winter is an honest, hopeful autobiography that will inspire anyone who has ever had to overcome an obstacle in his or life.
AwardsReach for the Moon
International Reading Association: Distinguished Book 1995;
Orton Dyslexia Society: Margo Marek Award 1994;
Midwest Independent Publishers Association: Best Cover Design 1995;
Mid-America Publishers Association: Honor Book, Illustration and Graphics, 1995;
Midewest Independent Publishers Association: Merit Winner, Best Parenting Book 1995;