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January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her Hardcover – August 7, 2012
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“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
"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)
"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 teaches writing courses at California State University, Northridge. He keeps a blog of his family's journey through Janni's schizophrenia at www.janisjourney.org.
Top customer reviews
Although I do not have a child with his daughter's tendencies, I do have a young niece (4 yrs. of age) that exhibits similar behavior. Her mother is waiting until she is older to have her tested and have a brain scan/MRI, etc.
I could easily relate to January's actions and her father's distress. It is encouraging, yet sad to hear a little voice admit, "I don't want to do these things," but devastating to have them say "I want to die."
My sincerest wish to their family is that things will continue to improve. I am certain that their love will bridge those difficult moments and the family will continue to develop. Anyone who has a child or acquaintance with mental challenges, or recognizes themselves in this book will appreciate it.
January, the child AND the book, is a gem.
It was not an easy book to get through -- be warned, it is dark, filled with negativity, and even distressing. (I ate a lot of chocolate while reading it.) But you might have expected that anyway: after all, the book focuses on a six-year-old girl who has a severe case of child-onset schizophrenia, and has not been noted by Publisher's Weekly for its optimistic outlook. If you're interested in the mental health of children and how our culture treats those afflicted with schizophrenia, I would definitely recommend it -- but be warned that it's not something that will leave you feeling hopeful and fulfilled.
This book is about acceptance of the diagnosis which is cruel especially for a child so young. It's a heartbreaking story especially if you have seen her parents on television in Dr Phil or the Oprah Winfrey Show. Jani is exhausting with so much energy and stimulation. Her father, Michael Schofield, obviously loves his daughter and would go to the ends of the earth to save her. He no longer wonders if Jani will win the Nobel Prize, become a doctor, lawyer, scientist, marry or have children. He just wants Jani to be happy and alive. There is a gut wrenching scenes where Jani wants to commit suicide because she has the illness.
The Schofields are remarkable family because they are dealing not only with a severe mental illness but also society's refusal to take it seriously. Their daughter is severely mentally ill and needs to be on the most extreme anti-psychotic medication probably for the rest of her life. Susan and Michael have also another child, a son named Bodhi. When he was small, Jani and Bodhi had to live with one parent in 2 one bedroom apartments where Michael and Susan would take turns with each child. The situation worked until Bodhi was big enough to protect himself from his big sister.
The family is still together and Jani is much better. Her parents have established the Jani's Foundation to help others like themselves especially with insurance companies who don't cover the enormous expenses that would bankrupt any family. The insurance companies should help families who have children like Jani's maintain and get access to health care and medication. Mental illnesses should not be stigmatized by insurance companies, hospitals, and society as a whole.
I hope there is a follow up book with better results. Michael needs to deal with his anger issues to be able to deal with Jani's disease, since it is a lifelong illness.