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January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her [Kindle Edition]

Michael Schofield
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (399 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Michael Schofield’s daughter January is at the mercy of her imaginary friends, except they aren’t the imaginary friends that most young children have; they are hallucinations. And January is caught in the conflict between our world and their world, a place she calls Calalini.  Some of these hallucinations, like “24 Hours,” are friendly and some, like “400 the Cat” and “Wednesday the Rat,” bite and scratch her until she does what they want.  They often tell her to scream at strangers, jump out of buildings, and attack her baby brother. 
 
At six years old, January Schofield, “Janni,” to her family, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, one of the worst mental illnesses known to man.  What’s more, schizophrenia is 20 to 30 times more severe in children than in adults and in January’s case, doctors say, she is hallucinating 95 percent of the time that she is awake. Potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her. 

A New York Times bestseller, January First captures Michael and his family's remarkable story in a narrative that forges new territory within books about mental illness. In the beginning, readers see Janni’s incredible early potential: her brilliance, and savant-like ability to learn extremely abstract concepts. Next, they witnesses early warning signs that something is not right, Michael’s attempts to rationalize what’s happening, and his descent alongside his daughter into the abyss of schizophrenia.  Their battle has included a two-year search for answers, countless medications and hospitalizations, allegations of abuse, despair that almost broke their family apart and, finally, victories against the illness and a new faith that they can create a life for Janni filled with moments of happiness. 
 
A compelling, unsparing and passionate account, January First vividly details Schofield’s commitment to bring his daughter back from the edge of insanity.  It is a father’s soul-baring memoir of the daily struggles and challenges he and his wife face as they do everything they can to help Janni while trying to keep their family together. 



Editorial Reviews

Review

“[Schofield’s] memoir is a wrenching, heroic narrative about a dad descending into his daughter's world to pull her back, finally, into his own.”People

"January’s story is one of redemption, of resilience, of a family coming together in spite of all to rally for a difficult, special girl."
New York Post

"In his memoirs January First, Michael Schofield chronicles his family's experience with [a] devastating mental illness, which usually presents itself at least a decade later."
—Daily Mail (UK)

“Imagine invisible demons that attack your beautiful child. But this is no nightmare, and no supernatural fantasy. The demons are real, and they come from inside her own mind. The story of January Schofield, diagnosed at six with childhood schizophrenia. is told by her father, Michael, with a father's tenderness, a novelist's consciousness, and a knight's grace. We can hold our breath and pray, but not look away. This modern parable may be the most compelling book you will ever read.”
Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

January First is a riveting and compelling-and also quite painful--story of a father’s efforts to help his young daughter find a place for herself in this world in the face of a serious mental illness. Schofield gives a glimpse inside the mind of a child who lives much of her life in another world, interacting with "friends" who are only in her mind. Schofield takes us on his journey with Jani, starting with his thoughts that Jani is simply a misunderstood genius to recognition that something is really wrong, to the ultimate diagnosis of schizophrenia, a very serious mental illness, even more so when it manifests in a child.  Schofield and his wife never give up.  Their dedication and steadfastness are inspirational.  Their story will be highly valued by the many families with a child with mental illness-indeed, by the many families who have any kind of struggle with their kids.  The book ends on a hopeful note with Jani in a better place, yet we recognize that the battle is likely not over.”
Elyn Saks, MacArthur Grant Recipient and author of The Center Cannot Hold

"An unflinching portrait of the scourge of mental illness." Kirkus Reviews

"In this dramatic memoir, Schofield...explains the mental illness of his young daughter...offers valuable insight for others in similar situations, and ends on a hopeful note." Publishers Weekly

About the Author

MICHAEL SCHOFIELD has an MA in English and teaches writing courses online for California State University at Northridge. He and his wife, Susan, are co-founders of the Jani Foundation. Michael lives with his family in Valencia, California.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1541 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 030771909X
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0058Z4NK0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,331 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
135 of 162 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A father's descent into madness... December 24, 2012
Format:Hardcover
I wanted to like this book. I truly did. After seeing a documentary about Jani, the daily struggles of a schizophrenic child piqued my interest. But, sadly, the father's ego and sense of entitlement got in the way of her story. His self-aggrandizing position of superiority above those around him and dozens of inconsistencies in his actions proved to be too much to stomach:

His description of his daughter is akin to viewing her as a science experiment, and yet he seems truly amazed that despite her "genius" she wants to be a normal child. It's sad that I know Jani's IQ (stated ad nauseum throughout the book, to the point of embarrassment) but not HER hopes and dreams. My heart goes out to poor Jani. While Mr. Schofield clearly loves her, he has yet to realize that gifted intelligence is by no means unique to his daughter.

Jani's aggression is well-documented throughout the book, yet consistent discipline is presented as a `novel' concept towards the end of the book, only after a therapist suggested they not give in to a five year old's demands. Seriously? One might question whether some of her behavioral issues could have been curtailed with parenting 101 - don't negotiate with a toddler.

The family insists on keeping a dog, despite repeated attempts by Jani to harm or attack the poor animal. Worse, the father and mother at various points in the story feel compelled to include Jani on walks and during play.

The father describes ongoing beatings, but as a teacher at a local college, makes no mention of whether inevitable bruising from such forceful blows would cause others to raise questions. Seems odd that bloody lips, scratches, and kicks wouldn't be noticed.
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78 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, compelling read August 7, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I know of Jani from TV. I arrived home from work and found that January First had arrived. I was tired and grumpy and had many work tasks to complete this evening. I took a peek at just the first chapter and never stopped reading. I think Michael has written a wonderful, honest, heartbreaking story and I am so grateful he has written it. I do not have a family member with a mental illness but since learning about Jani I have been paying more attention and have come to realize that help for these families is just what Michael describes, hard to come by. It is difficult for me to realize how arduous and lonely and scary such a struggle would be. I think it is so important that you were honest, that you shared your doubt and your conflicting emotions. Living in a state of exhaustion and fear is a state of being where few could tread with certainty. I honor your journey and am grateful Jani has you both. I found the triumph of love to be the enduring message.

I highly recommend this book. It is an invitation to take a walk with two people who have been to the depths of despair and came up with hope. It is also the story of not giving up, period. Ever.
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45 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Parenting license required February 27, 2013
By M.Yates
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I had great expectations of this book having read and seen advance publicity promoting it. I've also taken the time to check out some videos of this child. I work in the field so I'm not unfamiliar with the subject matter.
If the father intended to sound opinionated and arrogant he succeeded spectacularly. Initially I felt sympathy for his wife but that was short lived. Both these parents have contributed to this child's dysfunction. It's evident in early videos that the parents were perpetuating the 'imaginary friends' scenario. Dad's 'playing along' with these imaginary friends has ensured their continued existence.The child presents on the autistic spectrum and her massive behavioural issues are directly related to her parents. I'm pretty well speechless at what the parents have created here and apparently have done with their second child also.
On a literary level, the book is poorly written. Anyone who thinks this book is otherwise is deluded. I persevered with this book hoping that Dad would develop some insight into his unpleasant personality but again I was disappointed.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story buried beneath the author's ego November 4, 2012
By Lily
Format:Hardcover
This is an interesting story that might have been more effectively told if the author could have reigned in his ego. He seems to have some of the same problems from which his poor daughter suffers--excessive anger, the insistence on turning every exchange with other people into a power struggle and chronic impulsivity. While I felt great sympathy for the parents and have no doubt their daughter has some form of mental illness or disability for which there are few services, he was so unsympathetic that it diminished the book's impact. The topper was when he called his father to ask if there was any mental illness in his family and then later reveals he was hospitalized for explosive anger and fire-setting as a youth. Did he forget that little detail? He seemed to identify with his daughter to an unhealthy degree and blame his wife when she was not willing to sacrifice everything and everyone to make Jani happy for the moment. He seemed more like a pal than a parent at times. Perhaps a professional writer would have been more objective. Use of the present tense made me feel I was trapped in the father's angry head for the whole book and I wondered if some of the episodes were exaggerated a bit. Not a great reading experience.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not so sure about this one.
I really struggled with this one. I couldn't feel empathy with January once her baby brother came into the picture and I had a very hard time understanding the father, who only... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Merry
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely loved reading about Jani's journey
Absolutely loved reading about Jani's journey, and her parent's struggles to keep her grounded. One of the best books I have read in a while. Absolutely recommend!
Published 17 days ago by amy
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
A fascinating look at the struggles a family went through to help their young daughter with a mental illness.
Published 23 days ago by C.F. Woodham
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
I CANNOT GET IT ON MY KINDLE.
Published 26 days ago by Wilma Snell
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly honest, heartfelt & hopeful
An account of the unthinkable, so few books address child-onset schizophrenia with such brutal honesty from a parent's perspective. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Meru B.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 1 month ago by vickisevern
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read!
Published 1 month ago by Sue Hackett
3.0 out of 5 stars Unsure
I read this true account of a young girl with schizophrenia after seeing the Schofield family on television. I am of two minds about this book. Does it exploit Jani? Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ellie
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!
I literally neglected my life for a day and a half for this book. This book is honest, moving and speaks of true heroism. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sarah Norval
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave and heartbreaking
I don't know how I'd survive this. I complain about regular parenthood all the time.

This is about someone pushed beyond their capacity and brave enough to reveal it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hugh
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January First by Michael Schofield
Miss Psychology, you have no kids or credentials, just a lot of sick hate for people you don't know. Your obsessed with the Schofields and stalk them and lie about them. You don't make any sense at all.

For more, this thread is about the book and has Miss Psychology in a starring role.

She... Read More
Dec 28, 2012 by Dodge Dart |  See all 10 posts
amazon allows spammers to slander authors and posters
"What you see in that cliche movie (whose very name is considered a slur in the autism world) is just that - a cliche and a stereotype of a minority form of autism. I don't know, but I'm sure that split personality, which we know is an obsolete crock and fallacy is just as much of an anthema... Read More
Feb 22, 2012 by _NOP; |  See all 104 posts
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