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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 (328 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $8.03
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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


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

About the Author

Michael Schofield is the author of January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her and the cofounder, with his wife, Susan, of the Jani Foundation.

An AudioFile Earphones Award winner and Audie Award finalist, Patrick Lawlor is also an accomplished stage actor.

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:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,788 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 87 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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97 of 120 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A father's descent into madness... December 24, 2012
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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35 of 47 people found the following review helpful
It's rare to see a memoir by a father. There are a ton of memoirs by mothers but not a lot by fathers, particularly not by fathers of daughters. Put this together with the fact that Jani (her parents' nickname for her) has childhood-onset schizophrenia, and you have one unique book.

This is an excellently told memoir. It opens with Michael speaking about having his daughter's diagnosis now and struggling with all the barriers toward a normal life presented not just by her illness but by the world we live in.

After the introduction, Michael tells the story in a linear fashion. He does a good job remembering how he felt in the early days. His immense pride at his daughter's high IQ and creative mind coupled with a determination to help her succeed and be herself. It's fascinating to see, as an outsider, how early there were warning signs that something was not quite right with Jani but that Michael and Susan (her mother) attributed to a positive cause. I think that's typical of parents and indeed of anyone who loves someone. They were looking for the best. Believing in the best for their daughter.

This of course makes Jani's move toward violent behavior at the age of five that much more heart-breaking to read. I've heard and read stories and documentaries of how difficult it is for parents of young adults who become schizophrenic but at least they are adults. To have this happening to your five year old is completely terrifying. How do you control a child for whom no punishments seem to work? Who is more concerned with appeasing her hallucinations than with obeying her parents?
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By Randye
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fact:One in four families lives with some form of serious mental illness. Another fact: schizophrenia is the 9th leading cause of disability, globally.

Still - you never imagine it can emerge in a young, beautiful baby girl. This is what the Schofield family went through - and is going through. And Michael, the dad, takes you through it with a raw, revealing, gripping account of his journey with daughter Jani as he and his wife Susan struggle to understand,try to fix, and eventually must accept, what is really happening: Jani has childhood-onset schizophrenia. And, believe me, it is no fun.

My son Ben, like Jani, has an IQ of 146. He, too, has schizophrenia. We, too, went through the confusion of "this has to be anything, just not a mental illness" - both from so-called "professionals" as well as our own inner thoughts. But we were, perhaps, luckier - although who can ever compare emotional pain? - in that Ben's symptoms didn't emerge until his med-teens.

You will live through the crises, share the family's struggles, and marvel at the power of their love through the most trying times. Schizophrenia is a powerful illness, which can bring stigma and shame along with the grief and loss. Powerful, yes - but love is even more powerful.

No, this story is not yet "over" - but it is still worth knowing the first chapters, and you will root for any medical miracles that can help Jani, and others like her. She, like my son, is worth saving. She is loved.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
A very intense book. The events of Michael Schofield with January and his family was written well. He described the hell they all had to go through to help his daughter and to... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Sheila Cohn
3.0 out of 5 stars Parents
Annoying how the parents especially the father thought they knew best even better than the experts they weren't doing much to help their children with their silly option s
Published 10 days ago by diana tyndall
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Story
This is such an amazing story about an extraordinary little girl and her family. It is an excellent read that not only serves to inform and educate about childhood schizophrenia,... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Jilly82
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Really appreciate this book which is so well done. Gives a great insight into childhood mental illness, and the struggle for parents/caretakers!!!!
Published 12 days ago by Janice Langham
5.0 out of 5 stars I felt like I was living with them.
I absolutely loved this book and even had the pleasure of sharing it with friends who also enjoyed it. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Gretchen
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
I absolutely loved this book. I couldn't put it down. Although it doesn't describe in detail how January feels and what she sees, it still allows you to look into the lives of... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Sabrina Manahan
2.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the father
I was so excited to read this book having seen a documentary about January a few years ago. Sadly, this story isn't so much about January as it is about her father. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pamela Lambert
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
I first saw Jani's story on Oprah, and as a special education teacher I became very interested. I love that this is told from a parent's point of view; it reminds me of the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rachelle Gradt
5.0 out of 5 stars This an amazing read
if you read any memoir about this disorder you should read this one. This story ropes you in and makes you question
what exactly what our society happen to these families and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars heroic and poignant story of two parents love for their schizophrenic...
A terrifying and beautiful story of how two parents nurture, console, and care for their young daughter who has schizophrenia. This is a masterpiece.
Published 1 month ago by Carol R. Brown
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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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