Book Review and Giveaway: The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent

Ann Jacobus
YA / Contemporary / Suicide & Family Issues
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Date of Publication: March 7, 2023
Number of Pages: 352 pages 
Audiobook: 9 hours, 11 minutes
Scroll down for Giveaway!
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, working in her Aunt Fran’s San Francisco art gallery, and volunteering at a suicide-prevention hotline. Her own suicide attempt is in the past and living 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 struggles to help care for her aunt—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.
Click to Purchase:
Review Header
Del is eighteen years old, and she’s dealt with a lot. Her mother died when she was young, and her father pretty much handed off responsibility for Del to her Aunt Fran in San Francisco and left the country. As a teenager, Del struggled with alcohol and addiction and tried to kill herself. She’s clean now, working at a suicide crisis hotline, looking toward college in the fall. Aunt Fran has been Del’s safe place, her rock.

Until she can’t be. Fran’s diagnosis of terminal cancer rocks Del’s world, especially once Fran decides not to take extreme measures in efforts to prolong her life. Del shoulders the very adult burden of caring for Fran, trying to communicate to her very absent father how much Fran needs him – and how much she needs him.

If discussions of suicide, addiction, end of life decisions, and death are difficult for you, this may not be the book you want to read. And honestly, it’s not one I can say I enjoyed. It isn’t a light and fluffy read, nor is it one that I’d say I want to read again and again. It is definitely a worthwhile read, though.

Ann Jacobus creates believable characters in Del, Fran, and Nick, Del’s childhood friend and current crush. Del, even with her history of mental health struggles, is still very much a teenager. A text from Nick in the middle of an AA meeting distracts her, and until Fran’s diagnosis, yes, things in her world are largely about her. (How many of us weren’t at least a little self-centered as teenagers?) The interactions between Del and Nick are spot on for what you’d expect of two young adults dancing around what exactly they mean to each other. Fran was marvelous as the colorful aunt who supported and loved Del through some hard times.

The topic of end of life is handled with grace and dignity. Fran isn’t pressured into anything she doesn’t want, but has the agency to decide for herself how she wants things to go while she still has full use of her mental faculties. Del has to adjust her thinking to accommodate Fran’s wishes. Slowly, with the help of a wise hospice nurse named Harold, she begins to see the blessing in being there to support Fran as she looses her grip on this life. Fran is at peace when it is time for her to go, and Del sees that death, not just an ending, can also open her eyes to the wonders of life.

If you don’t shy away from heavy subjects and from stories that point us to light and love even in the midst of struggle, I highly recommend The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent.

Keep scrolling to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of the book plus San Francisco swag.
Ann Jacobus is the author of YA novels The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent and Romancing the Dark in the City of Light. She earned an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has published articles, essays, short fiction, and poems. She teaches writing and presents at workshops and conferences. A former suicide crisis line counselor, she’s a mental health advocate and speaks to teens about writing and suicide prevention both. Born in Texas and a life-long Tex-Mex addict, she and her family divide their time between California and Massachusetts.
Each receives a signed hardcover copy + San Francisco swag
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 10/6/23)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

or visit the blogs directly:


StoreyBook Reviews



Hall Ways Blog



Boys’ Mom Reads

Audiobook Review





Forgotten Winds



The Plain-Spoken Pen



Shelf Life Blog

Author Interview





Chapter Break Book Blog

Audiobook Review


Book Fidelity

Deleted Scene


The Real World According to Sam



Jennie Reads


blog tour services provided by

This entry was posted in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Contemporary Fiction, Lone Star Book Blog Tours, Lone Star Literary Life, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway: The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent

  1. Hall Ways says:

    You absolutely nailed how I felt about this book. Enjoyable is not a word I would use to describe it, but it’s important. Thought provoking. And for me, probably too soon given recent losses, so your warnings are appropriate, too. Thanks for an insightful review.

  2. Ann Jacobus says:

    Thank you for this insightful and honest review, Plain-Spoken-Pen (Lisa)! I agree that it’s not a light read and very much appreciate your recommendation. <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.