The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent

  • Interest Level: Grade 8 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 8

Eighteen-year-old Del is in a healthier place than she was a year and a half ago: She’s sober, getting treatment for her depression and anxiety, and volunteering at a suicide-prevention hotline. Her own suicide attempt is in the past, and living in San Francisco with her beloved aunt has helped her see a future for herself.

But when Aunt Fran is diagnosed with terminal cancer, Del’s equilibrium is shattered. She’s dedicated herself to saving every life she can, but she can’t save Fran. All she can do is help care for her aunt and try to prepare herself for the inevitable—while also dealing with a crush, her looming first semester at college, and her shifts at the crisis line.

After Aunt Fran asks for her help with a mind-boggling final request, Del must confront her own demons and rethink everything she thought she knew about life and death.

Format Your Price Add
Available at all major wholesalers and distributors. Save 25% off list price on hardcovers and ebooks when you buy direct! Digital purchases will be accessed on Lerner Digital Bookshelf. An account will be created for you after purchase.
Interest Level Grade 8 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 8
Genre Young Adult
Category Diverse Books: Mental Health & Neurodiversity, Diverse Books: Physical Disability & Illness, Diversity, SEL: A Self-Awareness, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: D Relationship Skills, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2023
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Lab ®
Language English
Number of Pages 352
Publication Date 2023-03-07
Text Type Fiction
BISACS YAF058050, YAF058250, YAF023010
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.5 x 8.25
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Reviewed, Teaching Guides, and eSource

Author: Ann Jacobus

Ann Jacobus writes children's and YA fiction, teaches writing, and volunteers on a suicide crisis line. She's published short fiction, essays, and poetry in anthologies, journals, and magazines, and is the author of YA thriller Romancing the Dark in the City of Light, and YA novel The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent coming in spring, 2023. San Francisco is home to her and her family.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent

Eighteen-year-old Del is in a healthier place than she was a year and a half ago: She’s sober, getting treatment for her depression and anxiety, and volunteering at a suicide-prevention hotline. Her own suicide attempt is in the past, and living in San Francisco with her beloved… View available downloads →

The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent: An Interview with Author Ann Jacobus

Hopeful and compassionate, The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent follows eighteen-year-old Del as she discovers she cannot fully value life without accepting the realities of death. She’s in a healthier place more than a year after a suicide attempt. She’s sober, getting treatment for her… View →

Happy Book Birthday: New Picture Books, Graphic Novels, Young Adult, and Nonfiction

Check out March new releases from Lerner Publishing Group! Picture Books Finding Family: The Duckling Raised by Loons by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis Discover the true story of an orphaned mallard duckling being raised by a pair of loons. On a lake in… View →

YA Fiction Round Up

There is nothing better than a good fiction novel that draws the reader into a new world and story. These new young adult fiction books, including two graphic novels, dive into deeper topics while layering in adventure, action, and emotion! The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent… View →

A Spring Sneak Peek

Can you believe that the year is almost over? If you’re already thinking about all the wonderful books you’ll read next year, you’re not alone! In today’s blog post we’re giving you a sneak peek at our spring titles. Read all of these fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels on the Lerner View →


  • California Book Award Finalist, Short-listed, 2024


School Library Journal

“[T]his book takes readers on a bittersweet, hard-hitting journey with Del as she tackles more than an 18-year-old should. Jacobus expertly covers numerous tough subjects.”–School Library Journal


“Jacobus (Romancing the Dark in the City of Light, 2015) has done a beautiful job with many difficult subjects, striking just the right tone and treating her highly sympathetic characters with dignity and compassion.”—Booklist

Catherine Linka

“Achingly beautiful, emotionally complex and thought-provoking. A deeply felt and ultimately hopeful novel.” —Catherine Linka, author of A Girl Called Fearless

Publishers Weekly

With intensely emotional and honest prose, Jacobus (Romancing the Dark in the City of Light) conveys Del’s inner turmoil and longing for relief from the constant pain and fear of death she believes haunt her life. . . . supportive health coordinators and mentors help Del confront her fears and find a new appreciation for life in this hopeful read."—Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Honestly and courageously explores sensitive topics.”—Kirkus Reviews

Kelly Loy Gilbert

“A story that never shies away from the difficult, The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent is both challenging and compassionate.”—Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of Conviction and Picture Us in the Light

Sarah Tomp

“Skillfully rendered, this novel raises difficult questions about life and death. Instead of finding simple answers on the page, readers receive something better: honesty, hope and reassurance.”—Sarah Tomp, author of The Easy Part of Impossible and My Best Everything