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

4.3 out of 5 stars 434 customer reviews

ISBN-13: 978-0307719096
ISBN-10: 030771909X
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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: 3510 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (August 7, 2012)
  • Publication Date: August 7, 2012
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0058Z4NK0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,605 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
I'm going to have to agree with most of the other reviewers. I picked this book up at the library with an interest in learning more about Jani's situation. What I got was her father's self-entitled, egotistical, and delusional downward spiral instead. Don't get me wrong. This is a very interesting read and I finished it in two days, but the further I got, the more I realized I was only enveloped in watching a train wreck.

You might think I'm referring to Jani. Nope.

First, I can't imagine how difficult it must be to raise a child with schizophrenia. I can't fault the parents for the things they royally screwed up on because no single parent is EVER prepared to handle what they handled. However, the way Michael demonizes his wife is complete bull. For 90% of the book, Michael paints himself as the model parent. He writes as if he is the only one who cares about Jani while his wife is just an exasperated flake. Everyone is the enemy and he's the only one who understands Jani. He complains about how his wife doesn't understand or help yet he gives no indication of ever acknowledging how much she shared the burden of raising a child with mental illness. People handle stress differently and the fact that Michael's interpretation of that is "handle it my way or you're handling it wrong" says loads about why he felt so out of control. One particular sentence that seemed to sum up my assumption about his one-man-army mentality perfectly is when he mentions the conception of Bohdi. When Michael and Susan were seeking friends for Jani and failing, they decided that maybe a sibling is what she needed. However, Michael's words were, "If I couldn't find her a friend, I'd create one for her." Not "we".
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