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A brilliant and harrowingly honest memoir, January First is the extraordinary story of a father's fight to save his child from an extremely severe case of mental illness in the face of overwhelming adversity.At six years old, Michael Schofield's daughter, January, was diagnosed with one of the most severe cases of child-onset schizophrenia that doctors had ever seen. In JaA brilliant and harrowingly honest memoir, January First is the extraordinary story of a father's fight to save his child from an extremely severe case of mental illness in the face of overwhelming adversity.At six years old, Michael Schofield's daughter, January, was diagnosed with one of the most severe cases of child-onset schizophrenia that doctors had ever seen. In January's case, she is hallucinating 95 percent of the time that she is awake. Potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her. January, "Jani" to her family, has literally hundreds of imaginary friends. They go by names like 400-the-Cat, 100 Degrees, and 24 Hours and live on an island called "Calalini," which she describes as existing "on the border of my world and your world." Some of these friends are good, and some of them, such as 400, are very bad. They tell her to jump off buildings, attack her brother, and scream at strangers.In the middle of these never-ending delusions, hallucinations, and paroxysms of rage are Jani's parents, who have gone to the ends of the earth to keep both of their children alive and unharmed. They live in separate one-bedroom apartments in order to keep her little brother, Bohdi, safe from his big sister--and wage a daily war against a social system that has all but completely failed them. January First is the story of the daily struggles and challenges they face as they do everything they can to help their daughter while trying to keep their family together. It is the inspiring tale of their resolute determination and faith ....

Title : January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780307719089
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

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

  • Katie
    2019-02-11 17:56

    Wow...I couldn't put this book down....however....while my heart breaks for this family, I couldn't help but get this skeevy feeling that this father is very comfortable in his "martyr" role. And it also seemed that he AND his wife might have mental issues of their own that have contributed to their daughters problems. After finishing it, I searched around on the internet and found some very interesting things. One is the fathers blog started several years ago. In between updates on his daughter are rambling messages about movies and other random things as well as solicitations for money to help his family pay the rent. They have pimped her story out to all kinds of media outlets including major newspapers, Oprah, etc. Mom has gotten herself a radio show. And there is 5 part web documentary on YouTube that disturbs me too in that it seems everyone is acting for the cameras. Now they are saying their younger son is schizophrenic too. It is like they are making careers out of their children's mental illnesses....The more I read about and watch this family, the more I am convinced that there is a psychiatric Munchhausen-By-Proxy going on here.

  • Annie
    2019-02-08 19:41

    This book was, hands down, one of the most irritating reading experiences of my life. You know that baby or child on a plan who won't stop crying and flailing around, and you sort of feel sorry for them because hey, flying is weird and upsetting to a child? This book was like a transatlantic flight where you're sandwiched into a middle seat between an uncontrollably bratty child and their parent who doesn't discipline them and instead spends a good solid three hours telling you how smart their precious little one is.Jani sounds like a handful and I don't know if her diagnosis is a proper one, but it's clear something is amiss. Despite her behavior being difficult to see past initially, she seems to have a genuinely sweet personality, and the idea that she feels scared, out of control, or like a "bad" child is truly heartbreaking.Her dad, Michael, as presented in this book seems like a deeply unpleasant person who finds meaning in life by being a martyr. His relationship with his wife as described in this book seems at best awful and at worst emotionally and perhaps verbally abusive. He is obsessed with detailing how special he is; no other parent (even his wife!) can truly understand how hard his life is for him. He also is strangely convinced that only HE truly knows how to parent Jani, only HE can control their family pet, only HE fully accepts and appreciates Jani's intelligence. Oh, Jani's intelligence. In case you missed it the first few times it's brought up in the book, don't worry, you'll have a couple hundred more opportunities to read all about how Jani is so intelligent and that because she is academically gifted, she has a right to be absolutely atrocious. Those who dislike her bad behavior simply don't understand her GENIUS. Doctors who suggested a firmer hand with her (the result of which was decreased -- though not entirely eradicated -- negative behavior) just didn't KNOW Jani like Michael did, and were too stupid to realize that giving her firm boundaries and rules only hampered her budding genius.This book isn't about parenting a special needs child, this book is about a really unpleasant person who happens to have a child with special needs.

  • Jessica
    2019-02-18 14:56

    Memoirs about extraordinary people rarely fail to interest me, and the plight of January, a girl seemingly born with full blown schizophrenia, is terrible and moving. Sadly, though, both the writing and parenting decisions of father and author Michael Schofield made me want to scream. Within days of her birth, it's clear that tiny January will be a challenging child: she almost never sleeps and screams incessantly; as she grows, it becomes clear that she is possessed of a strange and brilliant mind. She learns to read and write as quickly as she learns to toddle, and she can add and subtract before the age of two. At the same time, though, she also exhibits anti-social and bizarre behavior; her father decides that it's due to her genius and devotes himself to coaxing that amazing mind to its greatest fruition. To a certain extent, I understand this, but as the narrative unfolds, what struck me most was that even now, knowing what he knows about his daughter's disabilities and challenges, Schofield seems to double down on and justify his decisions to indulge his daughter's troubling behavior. After January proves unable to sleep, make any friends or attend school due to a shocking range of behavior problems, the Schofields somehow decide that the best course of action would have another child. (At this point, I literally blurted out a "wtf?!" as I read along.) When little Bodhi is born, not surprisingly, January completely and totally flips, attacking the baby and her parents anytime the little guy cries. And within a matter of weeks, January winds up in a mental health facility and the family begins the terrifying journey of discovery about January's condition and fragility. Or rather, they sort of do. Schofield stubbornly continues to think that he and he alone can somehow tame his daughter's illness; even by the end, there remains an undercurrent of denial and narcissism that I found really offensive; he consistently put forth a narrative that made clear his sense of disdain and disregard for most everyone around him, including his father, his wife and his son. I wish January and her family the best, and I recognize they all have been forced into an impossible situation. But by and large, I found the attitude and actions recounted here frustrating and even disturbing.

  • Petra X
    2019-02-21 15:43

    This is better than 5 star. It's astoundingly good and well-written and I can but wonder what book it was that the negative reviewers read. Actually I don't need to wonder, I know what they read. They read in the title "her father's struggle' as meaning a humble man, a patient man, a gentle man, a man we could all like and respect. They were mistaken, the title didn't mean any of that, it meant exactly what it said, 'her father's struggle'.What he was, was fierce, raw, honest even when it cast him in a bad light, his struggle was not that of the saint, the spiritual man, but that of the warrior fighting a dirty war. His daughter January, had never been normal but exhibited signs of genius from babyhood, learning reading and writing and mathematical concepts before most children have managed their ABCs. She was tested and found to have an iq of 146 which her father kind of hangs on to as an anchor. She is so clever that when she grows up she will become a great scientist or writer or someone who can change the world! He tells everyone her iq, he has nothing else at all he can boast of with his preschool daughter and he loves her so, he wants the world to see her in the best light.January, known as Janni, Jani, 76, blue frog, or whatever else she absolutely insisted on and would be extremely violent if called the wrong name or anyone crossed her in a way she didn't like. By violence, this means destroying shops to the best of her manic ability, kicking, hit, headbutting and trying to kill her baby brother. She lives in a world of her own, and has lived in it for so long she is only half aware of what is reality and which of the seven rats and various people who populate her inner world are fantasies that she cannot control. She can see her fantasies, they aren't just in her head but before her eyes. And they do not wish anyone to disturb their world.Because she cannot be left with her brother and because her violence is more than one adult can control, one parent cannot be left with both children. Life is difficult and must be lived around Janni. Eventually through a hellish pathway of medications, mental homes, psychologists, counsellors and even the police investigating the father for sexually abusing her she (view spoiler)[fathers you put yourselves at risk if you even wash the private parts of your baby. Are we going to end up a society where a man can't change his little girl's nappy and give her a bath? (hide spoiler)]she gets a diagnosis of schizophrenia. At that time she is an inpatient in a mental hospital and drugs are rendering her semi-comatose and so her father takes her out and proposes a brilliant solution. That the parents should live separately in one bedroom flats but in the same block. One flat is for Bhodi, the baby, and one for Janni. Janni's flat is as devoid of artefacts as the father can make it, the better to contain his little girl's violent destructiveness. The kitchen equipment is in Bhodi's flat. Every night the parents take it in turns to sleep with their children and they are only united for meals where both parents are there to protect little Bhodi. In time, suitable medication is found and with luck Jani (as she now is) will grow, if not normal, to fulfil her potential accepting she is who she is.The father throughout is ultra-protective leading to times when he is extremely rude to others, abrupt, dismissive and accusatory. He's on medication himself for depression and has anger management problems. He doesn't care what he has to say or do to friends, doctors, psychologists, teachers, even to his wife He has nothing much left over to give to anyone, all his strength is for his terribly-damaged daughter. His wife is just as commited to the daughter but also to the baby, which the author really isn't. It's not he doesn't love his son, but his son doesn't need his energy and he feels he is the prime carer of his daughter, that his wife is just not single-minded enough. And he was right.This was why the reviewers who wanted him to be saintly didn't like the book. It wasn't ego-driven, the engine that drove this unputdownable book, gripping as any thriller, was love. It isn't compassion that wins wars, it's tactics, weapons, experience and ... aggression. The passive get knocked out early. The author is not a passive man.But he's a tremendously admirable and wonderful parent and I liked him, a lot.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-02-06 13:29

    I want these hours of my life back. And I want mind bleach. "January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her" is about January (Janni then Jani) Schofield's long and rocky road to a diagnosis of schizophrenia and how her parents, (or at least her saintly father) dealt with it.A couple weeks ago, I saw this family on Dr. Phil. I do not normally watch Dr. Phil. I have a life. But one of my daughters said she had seen about this girl on the internet and I got sucked in to watching it with her.I couldn't put my finger on it, but there was something hinky about Michael and Susan Schofield. Clearly this couple loves the sound of their voice. And they were clearly uninterested in hearing what Dr Phil had to say, or hearing from other parents of young adults living with schizophrenia who were also diagnosed at a very young age. I couldn't articulate what it was, but these people were very off-putting to me. And since Schofield was ultimately pushing his book, I checked it out from my public library. Praise Jesus I did not waste any hard earned money!I am not a doctor. Nor do I play one on tv. (ba-du dum) And I have no choice but to embrace Jani's diagnosis of schizophrenia. So I have no argument with that.But this book is 290 pages of narcissism and emotional masturbation by someone who wears his martyr hat with great pride indeed. He is the only one who can handle Jani. No one else (including his wife, her mother) understand her! No one else protects her or loves her the way he does. Oh, woe is he! He needs help but no one else can help. Only he can save Jani. No one. No one else. Then the end of the book, when Jani's school's principal calls and tells him he has to pick her up because she is a danger to herself and the other students, he refuses. Why? Because nobody will help Jani. Huh? You just spent like 250 pages Michael telling us how no one could help! They didn't get it! And now you contemplate abandoning her at school to force them into helping? And he also says why take her home? She would be uncontrolled at home to?? Me! Me! Me! Interestingly, he also relates stories about their dog, Honey. Honey is some kind of mix. Honey is apparently not well behaved. Schofield tells us how Honey is so "protective" that she cannot be around other people easily. Only he can walk Honey. She barks and snaps and attempts to snap at and bite people. Woe is he! Walking with Jani, Honey and a friend and his autistic son, when Jani flips out, it is a major crisis because ONLY HE can handle Jani and ONLY HE can handle Honey. Do you see the pattern here? Labels. Labels are a big thing with this guy. Jani's a genius. He's the protector. Everyone else is an idiot. Or regimented. Close minded. He is distrusting of everyone. No one else, with all their experience, might have anything to add to his 6 or 8 years of experience--nevermind that for most of those years, he was sure she was "just" a genius and clearly couldn't see the forest for the trees! The doctors didn't want to help. Or more likely, didn't want to help in the way he wanted them to. If he hadn't been so hung up on labels--especially the ones he had labeled Jani with, I think this journey would have still been a struggle, but not like this. Talk about one getting in one's own way. But because he had already decided about her (and his wife, their friends, the doctors, the hospitals) anything that did not agree with these preconceived notions was obviously wrong. I could not stand Michael Schofield's wishy washy parenting styles. Let Jani do what she wishes. Accept her "imaginary friends" or "psychoses" as real. Then a few pages later he insists of telling her dogs don't fly or that she hasn't left the room because she needs reality. Poor kid. This guy who really tries to convince us that he is her rock, her ONLY rock, proceeds to show us example after example of how he unstable his parenting was. Or is. On page 187 he bemoans that his wife, Susan, is convinced she has a mental illness and he doesn't think she has one, or didn't want to think so. Then on page 190--THREE PAGES LATER--he describes how this kid with bipolar disorder and autism, was trying to help Jani. He describes this was one mentally ill kid helping another mentally ill kid. Really? Make up your mind!In the end, I think this book was about Michael Schofield. And how great he is. And isn't he a rock of a parent. And don't we all admire/feel sorry for/think he's just precious? I can't believe I stuck with it for all 290 pages of self pity, self aggrandizement, self love, self loathing and "Gee, ain't I special?" I realize parents need to, and must, advocate for their children in situations like these. And that takes some thick skin and perseverance and picking yourself up when you are down. But I feel like seeing him on tv and now reading his book, he is mostly advocating for Michael Schofield. I don't know. So many people like this book. I think they must be drawn to Jani--a beautiful girl who is a genius and has an IQ of 146 and is schizophrenic. But this book isn't about her. It's about Michael. And after reading the book, I suspect it's always about Michael.

  • Meghan
    2019-01-24 19:39

    I really didn't like this one. It irritated me the whole time I was reading it. Yes, this girl obviously has psychological problems, but I don't think his bizarre parenting style helped matters at all. He starts off being completely lax with her. She has no rules because he doesn't want her to feel confined to societies rules, well guess what? If you don't teach your kid how to follow societies rules, SHE'S NOT GOING TO FOLLOW SOCIETIES RULES! Such as not being rude at a friends birthday party (when the mom tries to stop her from being rude to a parent at a birthday party, he gets mad at the MOM), or not letting her pull toys off a shelf and throw a tantrum about it (he makes excuses why he can't control his daughter from doing it because she's "too fast" or will run out, when he KNOWS that's what she is about to do. If you know that's what she's about to do, and she is FOUR than block her! You are the ADULT!). Then when he finally is told by a psychiatrist that he needs to set some boundaries, he takes in in the exact polar direction not even letting himself say he's proud of her when she has a good day at school! It is EXASPERATING!He also blames talking to her as an adult from an early age, as not setting enough boundaries. No. I've always talked to my kids as adults and explained/"taught" them things, and my kids still understand how to behave like civilized people. They still get rules that have to be followed, but instead of "because I said so", they get an explanation as to why it's unacceptable.Again, I'm not saying that this brought on her schizophrenia. I just don't think it could have helped with her regular behavior either. I really couldn't get behind this guy or his wife. I felt bad for the daughter, and would have liked it if they had taught the reader more about schizophrenia other than just assuming we had done all the online research they had done too. That's kinda why I read the book, to learn more about childhood schizophrenia. So much for that.

  • Yuki
    2019-02-10 20:48

    I HATED this book. HATED IT. It might deserve 2 stars because I was oddly compelled to finish it....but I hated it so much I can't. I admit the topic is fascinating (child-onset schizophrenia). And I believe in the right hands, written by a different author, this story could have been amazing. But it's not.I love books that make me FEEL something. I love books that make me cry, scare me, thrill me or make me feel deep joy. Unfortunately BEING IRRITATED isn't one of them. For most of the book (like 75-80%), I was irritated. I was irritated at the child-centric, permissive parenting style. The child was OUT OF CONTROL and the father chalks it up to "because she has a great imagination"? Give me a break! And the excuses given for said hideous behavior (ie. my child is a "genius". She has a IQ of 146! <--I cannot tell you how many times this was mentioned). The constant bitching and moaning about everything - complaining about the insurance companies, their 'souless' employees (instead of being thankful to actually HAVE insurance), the hospital staff with their 'moronic' nurses, the teachers not being able to 'handle' his child during the day (a child who he himself had a hard time controlling) and yet he expected the teachers (who have other students in their class) to "work with January and keep her stimulated" etc.I was also irritated by the fact that he seemed to value his relationship with daughter over his relationship with his wife and more intent on preserving a parent/child bond rather than a strong marriage. Others might argue that theirs is a strong marriage because they 'came through and survived this ordeal'. But in my opinion? Not having kissed your wife in TWO YEARS (which probably also means they weren't having sex) makes for a lousy marriage. And I suspect the marriage survived mostly because of the wife's efforts.There were other things as well which I won't bother recounting.Anyway, throughout the book I just wanted to SLAP the author. There was this overall whine-i-ness that was combined with a weird tone of superiority (martyrdom? Can't find the right word) of "look at all I have suffered and what a trooper I've been and look how I've held up" (despite the fact that he tried to kill himself with an overdose).I mean seriously? The child was a NIGHTMARE - most definitely by the age of three. There were major indications that something was NOT NORMAL but instead of doing something about it, the parents went on "dealing" instead of 1) taking January to a child psychologist 2) getting medication and 3) figuring out the root of the problem (all these thing should have been done by the time she was four years old).Granted, things like not being able to sit still, needing to be entertained/distracted, not listening or following orders, throwing tantrums to the nth degree - these things come with the territory of dealing with a child in small doses. Most children are not like this ALL THE TIME. Honestly, I don't understand why they put up with it.Plus the VIOLENCE (hitting, slapping, throwing, BITING). Gawd!!! It seemed like the only catalyst for "getting help" was the fact that she kept TRYING TO KILL HER BABY BROTHER (which is where the book pretty much starts - when Janni is five). I shudder to think what could have happened if January had been an only child (what with the permissive parenting, the excuses, the 'dealing', etc). Every time you hear a horror story about someone being shoved onto a NYC subway track - the perpetrator is schizophrenic, NOT on his meds and NOT locked up. Since January currently is only nine years old, I guess this story will be an on-going saga although they're 'managing' her mental illness at this point.So.Here's my recommendation: if you want to read a GREAT "parent fighting a child's mental illness" book, go read Mommy I'm Still In Here written by Kate L. McLaughlin. I didn't reviewed this book here on Goodreads but I think it's a 4.5-star recommendation! It's about a mother's account of her daughter bipolar disorder and McLaughlin is an incredible writer, conveying all the emotions and struggles of watching your child deal with a mental illness and how her family handled it. Plus I actually LEARNED something about bipolar disease - all the things I *did not* get from reading January First.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-02-10 15:52

    I was disturbed by this book on more than one level. I expected to be touched by the story of a father's effort to reach and save his daughter as she is taken over by schizophrenia. Instead, I also found my self questioning his methods and his motivation. I felt that he belittled, disregarded and degraded his wife and her opinions and feelings about their daughter. I was very upset with how he left out his wife's presence in the journey. As well as how he frequently seemed to disregard his son for the sake of his daughter. I felt that he rushed headlong into many situations without thinking to protect his daughter. Although I realize that as parents we may often do this (and should) I ended up feeling that he did this too often without any positive impact.*spoiler alert* Towards the end of the story, he overdoses on his antidepressant medication in a suicidal gesture. Then he decides not to go to the hospital because he THEN realizes the selfishness of this action and that his family needs him. In fact, he spends the night "caring" for his daughter while he fights the effects of his overdose. This sequence in the story reads as selfish, self serving and dangerous for him and his family.While I was deeply saddened by this family's story, I ended up feeling little but anger toward the father/author. It is also as if he has "given up " on Jani and the things that she can achieve in life. Furthermore, he has written this story for us all to read. It is also a story that his daughter may read in the future. And that does not sit well with me.

  • Sarah
    2019-02-01 14:45

    This book looked so interesting, but there was clearly more than meets the eye here.The book is a supposedly real account of this family's struggle, and it sounds very hard for them. The little girl is out of control, and she is constantly trying to hurt her baby brother. They finally get her diagnosed with schizophrenia. I don't know where to start, so I'll jump right in. It was told by the point of view of her January's father, (btw, who names their kid January? Seriously, its not cute or pretty). Her father is truly an insufferable, awful human being. He is terrible and rude to his wife, ignores his son, is rude to pretty much everyone in his life because they 'don't understand Janni,' since teachers and principals seem to have the crazy idea that its not a good idea to have her wreaking havoc in a classroom, keeping all the other kids from being in a safe environment and actually learning anything. He constantly calls her a genius, and after the first 6 or 7 times I really wanted to reach through the book and shake him so hard his brain comes out of his skull. Who cares if your kid's smarter than average when she is unpleasant to be around, let alone destructive and violent? And speaking of shaking, if you thought my statement was a little too harsh, wait, it gets worse.There were so many times in the story that something didn't feel right, and finally before I finished it I started googling the book, and reading other reviews. I had these instincts that there was more there than what it seemed. Turns out this father is guilty of shaking his daughter very hard when she was a baby because she wouldn't stop crying. But there was also a part in the book where he is accused of molesting his daughter, and right away he got upset and admitted to washing her crotch area too hard one time until she asked him to stop. And they asked him if he's ever slipped a finger inside her vagina, and he says that if she claims he did, he must have by accident when he was washing her. The molestation charges were dropped, and I couldn't believe it. WHAT? That sounds ridiculously guilty to me. First of all, why is he scrubbing her vagina at all? And how could he have - I mean, I can't even...anyway, so I have my suspicions about that. It isn't mentioned in the book, but this guy spends a lot of time writing a blog, and apparently even though its since been deleted, he once wrote in it about a time when she was little and wouldn't stop screaming so both he and his wife hit her as hard as they could. So there's sexual abuse and physical abuse right there, and there's all this evidence that he had anger problems so there might even be some emotional damage too....I believe that the girl has schizophrenia, but isn't schizophrenia usually triggered by abuse? And I don't want to get too far into diagnosing her because I'm obviously not qualified for that, but except for the hallucination parts, it sounds like the girl has autism and behavioral problems. I know a lot of people over the internet don't believe she has schizophrenia, and I can't think of how else to explain the hallucinations because I do believe she has those, but anything's possible. This family had a documentary made about their lives, they seem to be trying to be huge advocates for people with mental illnesses, which is a good thing, but it looks an awful lot like they're exploiting their children for money and attention. There are videos on youtube of Janni supposedly 'going through psychosis' when she's clearly just acting like a normal child, isn't even upset or anything. I read a few posts of the father's blog, and he is very arrogant and obviously feels superior to everyone else. He had this long blog post about why we should sympathize with the Boston Marathon bombers, as someone who is from Massachusetts and knows people that live in the neighborhood where the explosions happened, I would like to shake him for that too. The parents are now trying to say that their son has autism, so he's being exploited for that as well. Read it for yourself and see, even though it was from the father's point of view, he portrayed himself as a horrible human being who treated others terribly, so I was clearly expecting some revelation or something at the end where he learned how to change his behavior, but spoiler alert, this moment never came.

  • Britany
    2019-01-28 21:41

    From the moment I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down-- almost started and finished it within the same day (if only life didn't get in the way!). I was fascinated with the ugly world of Schizophrenia. Told in a loosely written diary format, we follow Michael Schofield as he lives with his five year old daughter- January, and tries to figure out what is causing her bouts with madness. The struggles this family had to face not only with their daughter losing control of her surroundings, but also having another baby which causes Jani undue distress, and reading about the lack of support the health care system has when it comes to mental health snatched my sympathy. I was just as frustrated as Michael was with the hospitals that couldn't understand what was wrong with Jani. The school system that couldn't handle Jani's outbursts. What is a parent to do in these circumstances? I'm not sure I could've held it together as well as Michael and Susan seemed to do.The only downside for me was how selfish at times Michael seemed. He was quick to blame Susan for things that she wasn't responsible for. While this constantly frustrated me, I did appreciate the honesty of Michael admitting this to the readers at times. Maybe that makes him a stronger narrator? Not sure- but was frustrated with him and how he handled situations at times. Then I have to remember this is his REAL life and who am I to judge?I also didn't realize this is the same family that was featured on Oprah. I remember watching that episode years ago and I was fascinated then, so it was nice to re-visit the same story and learn even more details about Jani and her family.

  • Sara
    2019-01-29 19:31

    An interesting read but very disturbing, and not for reasons that the author-father might imagine. First, I totally agree that mental health services, particularly for minors with major problems, are woefully inadequate and greatly underinsured, and the support available is greatly handicapped by a poor understanding of serious conditions (e.g., schizophrenia) in young children. Nonetheless, it seemed to me that the author & his wife made a lot of bizarre choices and did not wisely use what services were available to them. I especially did NOT understand why they chose to have a second child apparently in part because their first child (the subject of this book) expressed a desire for a sibling, and this AFTER it was already clear to them that she was very disturbed herself. Also, given that their own family histories apparently had unambiguous patterns of inherited mental illness in very serious forms I did not get why they would compound the difficulties facing their family by having another child. At that point, my sympathy for the parents' plight decreased greatly but I felt even more sorry for their daughter and now son who were/are at the mercy of two adults who apparently can't make rational decisions. I also agree with others here who have noted the inherent creepiness of the PR efforts the author has undertaken to both publicize his book & blog and to make money off them.

  • Diane
    2019-02-12 17:57

    This is one of those amazing stories that you never forget. I have recommended it to many friends since I read it. "January First" is a father's memoir of his wild daughter, who was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. When January was 3 years old, Michael thought she was extremely intelligent and was acting up because she was bored and needed mental stimulation. But as she grew older her behavior became more violent and unpredictable — to the point where she tried to kill her baby brother and would attack people — and the parents had trouble finding help. This book shows the serious problems we have in dealing with those who are mentally ill, especially if they are children. No psychiatrist wanted to be the one to say that January had schizophrenia, and the drugs the doctors kept prescribing weren't helping, and sometimes made the problems worse.My one complaint about the book is how unlikable the father is. I was put off by his arrogance and how he neglected his wife's concerns. But I give Michael credit for being upfront about his behavior, and I acknowledge that it is easy for me to sit back and judge his actions because I am not the one dealing with a schizophrenic child. This is an excellent read for parents or for anyone interested in psychology. My rating: 4.5 stars rounded up to 5

  • Lynne
    2019-02-08 13:31

    Absolutely stunning book.  If not for life interrupting my reading, I'd have finished this almost 300-pager in one sitting. Still it only took me two days. Michael Schofield gives a heartbreaking and shocking glimpse into life with a schizophrenic child. His 6-year-old daughter, January (Janni), is diagnosed with childhood onset schizophrenia after first enduring several misdiagnoses and inpatient stays, and being discharged despite lack of improvement. The family's journey is wrought with desperation, denial, frustration and embarrassment. First told simply to provide "tough love" and stricter boundaries, the Schofields were forced to face the reality of a schizophrenia diagnosis head on when Janni expressed (and showed) a desire to harm her newborn brother and the inability to control that desire, as well as the constant presence of imaginary friends.Schofield's writing had me completely riveted. Having worked in Adult and Child Psychiatry for 15 years, I appreciate immensely the difficult task of loving a child with schizophrenia. I saw from the perimeter what he lived every single day. Parents vacillate from wanting to help their child to wanting to institutionalize them, primarily because of the violence inflicted on themselves and others. With no cure in sight for this nightmarish illness, parents and families of loved ones afflicted should be applauded; there is no harder job in the world. My friends and family rely on me for 5-star book recommendations so they don't have to slog through less than stellar reads. My favorite book of the year so far, this one I'll recommend to everyone I know.

  • Allison Esson
    2019-02-18 17:36

    Although I finished reading this in one day, I have mixed feelings about it. Whilst the child at the centre of the book, Jani, is undoubtedly a tortured soul and woefully let down by the medical profession, her parents did little to encourage empathy. They - especially the dad (author of the book) seem obsessed with Jani's intelligence and genius - her IQ score is mentioned regularly and used to excuse shocking behaviour which should have rung alarm bells well before their second child arrived - who seems to have been planned solely because Jani said she wanted a sibling.The author seems self obsessed, in total denial about his daughter's problems - and deeply selfish. His own mental health problems are alluded to which puts a slightly different slant on the book. His relationship with his wife is unpleasant, he is arrogant and patronising to other parents, teachers and health professionals. I found his explanation of the situation which arose following his concerns over his five year old daughter's personal hygiene uncomfortable reading and I half wished Janie had been taken into care when the chance was there. I can't really understand what he hoped to gain from writing this - if it is support and understanding for Jani's condition and his struggle as a parent, he has failed.

  • Sallie Des Biens
    2019-02-22 16:54

    No wonder this child has issues. She has 2 spineless parents who discuss their issues in front of their kids. They don't set any limits, or boundaries. Because January is "gifted" they give her free reign to act like a BRAT. Perhaps she does have a mental illness, but I have to wonder how much of it is attributed to awful parenting. HORRIBLE, inexcusable parenting. This is the story of people who don't know how to set limits, have zero boundaries, and probably should not have had kids. Very disappointing read.

  • Hanna
    2019-01-22 16:38

    Münchausen syndrome by proxy

  • Randye Kaye
    2019-02-20 18:57

    It's such a mirror reflection of the emotions I went through as the mother of a son with schizophrenia - only my child was in his mid-teens when symptoms began. Jani was only - well, in hindsight for this loving, confused family, she was a newborn when her "differences" became apparent.But, like our family, the Schofields thought, and hoped, that love - and disciplined, creative parenting - might just "fix" the problem. Not the case if your child has schizophrenia, trust me - and not easy to accept for either parent. This is a highly readable, honest, raw memoir of the grasping at the straws of hope that we go through to find our how we can help our children. And, eventually, that we can't do it alone. Then, we have to find the right people to fill out the team. This, as you'll read, is a long journey.Many had thought "childhood-onset schizophrenia" was not a real thing. It is. Oh, it is. And this family, like ours, has worked tirelessly to get through the maze, guided by love and hope.Bravo!Randye Kaye, author "Ben Behind His Voices"

  • Michael
    2019-01-25 20:46

    Right from the day January was born her parents Michael and Susan knew something was not right with her. Janni would have very limited sleep and seemingly endless energy. It was clear from a young age her intelligence was far ahead of other children. As a one year old she was able to speak complete sentences and at two she was able to add and even get right negative numbers while she also had hundreds of imaginary friends. Janni though would never have her friends leave her and when her younger brother Bodhi was born her behaviour would become violent with wanting to hit him when he started crying.Janni's behaviour would become more and more alien as it become clear as time went on that her friends were her world and controlled her. With the family being put under all manner of stress Michael is soon forced to accept that Janni and the family need help. The families lives will be an emotional roller coaster with numerous revolving door visits to hospitals wich if anything made Janni worse and numerous medications that didnt help. It was only when the families health insurer was forced to keep Janni at UCLA that she would be diagnosed with child-onset schzophrenia.January first was emotional ride and one that was close to home for me as i have older brother who is schizophrenic. This book has many themes with Michaels determination to find out what is wrong with his precious daughter to the terrible lack of care by health institutions that forced the Schofield's to go to drastic lengths to improve the situation. My only little gripe is Michael was quite mean and confrontational with Susan on a number of occasions even though i dont begruge him with what was an undoubtably a very stressful number of years. This is not an easy read but for anyone with an interest in mental health issues is a compelling read.

  • Elsie Love
    2019-01-22 19:28

    I Admit, I've been a bad, bad girl. I have read many books since the last time I posted a review; and not a one has made it on this blog, to my Amazon review page, or any other sort of media. I'm not proud of my lack of structure; in fact, I've been hiding my head in shame since early May, wondering if I will ever finish my fourth book's edits, send my first book into a reprint or get my second book away from my first publisher (who I've come to despise). At first I made light of my moral failings, pretending I would soon snap back into action. It wasn't until very recently (as in yesterday) that I actually began to see the pinprick of light at the end of the tunnel that has become my life and I decided, without any more delays, to force myself back to work.But why? What could have kept you from writing for so very long...and why, when you are finally creeping back into the world of creative writing, would you chose to do it with a book review?The answer is simple: I chose this book, and this review, because like the Schofield family, I have a child who suffers from a major mental illness; and after several years of riding the roller coaster, being derailed from every path I ever foresaw, watching the best laid plans turn to ash and trying to decide who to tell and who to hide from, I finally decided I just don't care what people think. Scratch that. I care very much what people think--especially when it comes to my friends and loved ones. The misconceptions about schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are abundant and spread like fire through the Redwoods. In our society the word 'psychotic' is used interchangeably with the term 'serial killer' and after incidents like the James Holmes/Colorado tragedy...well you can see why most people who suffer from hallucinations aren't quick to come out and dispel the myth of all schizophrenics being violent. The ones who are often have been victims of long standing glitches in our mental health care laws. The ones who aren't cringe when bad news related to schizophrenia erupts, hide their heads and pretend to be typical (if they can).But just as I'm feeling alone, doomed to hide, stigmatized and ashamed, along comes this tiny, blond pixie--just a wisp of a person--with the voice and courage so many of us lack, speaking freely about her challenges (If you haven't caught her story on Discovery Health, I'd highly encourage you to do so. It is worth your time) shouting through the megaphone held by her parents, Susan and Michael, forcing the world to hear...Let's just say, suddenly my fears seem downright ridiculous. Jani is only ten. I have three additional decades of 'wisdom' to her one. What the heck am I hiding from? People fear what they don't understand. The time has come for people to understand the truth about schizophrenia. Not what is portrayed in the movies. Not what the lamestream media wants to publicize, but The Truth, all of it, even the parts that aren't pretty (not many are). Go on, say the word. Let it roll around on your tongue a bit before forcing it past your lips into the open air. Feels weird, doesn't it? Not so bad, right? Now, try to attach it to someone you love: your best friend, your sister or (God forbid) your own child. Ask yourself this: if my child were suffering, what would I want the world to know about them? How would I want them treated? How would I cope? Who could I trust? Where would we go? How would we function in this place where people shield their eyes and run?Bet you can't even begin to guess. I'm going to go so far as to say, I bet many a reader will pick this book up, read a few chapters, form a few misguided opinions about bad parenting, set it down and thank their lucky stars that it isn't THEM who is affected--it isn't THEIR child lashing out, talking to trees (or dogs or unicorns or demons or...pick your poison here) lost in the world, relying on psychiatry to catch up to the rest of modern medicine and praying people will be kind.But it could be you. If it could happen to Jani, the offspring of two intelligent, loving parents who doted on her and held every aspiration of sending her straight to the top to take over the world, it could happen to you. It happened to me. It happens every day, to families everywhere who feel they have to walk around stigmatized for a biochemical grenade which buried itself in their loved one's brain and blew up when they least expected it.And that, my reading friends, is exactly why you need to read this book.Not only is it well written, it is gritty, raw and truthful. It doesn't paint mental illness in any light other than the one that illuminated the Schofield family. And their light, no matter how much it dimmed, never went out.Instead it became a beacon of hope.

  • Ellie
    2019-02-15 18:35

    I won January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her, a memoir (or, perhaps better put, a "sharing") written by January's father, Michael Schofield, from LibraryThing. I received it yesterday and read it in one sitting, unable to put the book down (except for one short break to recover from a crying jag triggered by the story).Michael Schofield and his wife have a beautiful and gifted daughter, January. By the age of 3, January is clearly brilliant. By the age of 4, she is as clearly severely disturbed. And by the age of 5, she has been given that most dreaded of all psychiatric diagnoses, by anyone at any age, schizophrenia.January First is Professor Schofield's (he is a professor of English) telling of this story, as well as their journey through the world of child psychiatry and treatment. In some ways, they are lucky-they meet some smart, knowledgeable, and caring professionals early on. In most ways, their story is painfully typical of those interacting with health care professionals and institutions-rigid, judgmental, ignorant in a field filled with the unknown, difficult to access and harder to negotiate. Their experience was like my own, when I went through a similar experience 15 years ago with one of my own children. Sadly, things don't seem to have improved much.Luckily for me, after many misdiagnoses by a series of supposedly "top" professionals (and a fortune spent that left us in endless debt), my child was ultimately diagnoses with Asperger's Syndrome-a diagnosis which, if it had been given at 4 instead of 14 could have spared my child tremendous heartache as well as appropriate (instead of often punitive) intervention.The book is written with seemingly effortless prose that never gets in the way of the story.As much as I was wrung out by January's story, I was also deeply touched by her parents. Presented in all their humanness, loving, persevering, yet flawed, Schofield shares his own mental health struggles and his despair which is sometimes nearly as strong as his love for his beautiful but desperately ill daughter. It takes courage to show one's flaws as a parent at any times, but especially in a situation where people are all too eager to throw blame. But the books I found-and they were very few-when I was struggling with my own despair, desperate love, and the exhaustion not only of caring for a disturbed child (along with a sibling) but trying to get them the help they need-in which a parent was willing to show their humanity were of far more help and sustenance than the many in which heroic parents jump buildings with a single bound while smiling.Thank you Michael Schofield: I hope everyone reads your book. The world needs to know about the children who desperately need help and cannot receive it. And thank you for your insight about the song "A Beautiful Day." I will not spoil the story behind that-hopefully, you'll all read it for yourself.

  • Allison
    2019-01-27 13:56

    So... make sure you read the subheading of this book "A Child's Descent into Madness and Her FATHER'S Struggle to Save Her." When I first picked it up, I wondered, why only her father's struggle? Why not her family's struggle, or at least her parents' struggle? But the subtitle is correct: this is actually more Michael Schofield's story than even January's.The dad - I was so mad at him. Other people are mad at him because his laissez-faire, oh-she-is-a-genius-and-can't-control-her-behavior attitude for the first half of the book may have exacerbated his daughter's behavioral problems stemming from her mental problems. I say, I can't judge till I've walked about 200 miles in his shoes. I have no idea what it's like to have a daughter who is so mentally... different... so I'm sure he was doing the best he could. However, I was continually shocked by his treatment of his wife. His literary treatment as well as his actual treatment. He seemed to blame her for everything that was going wrong in their lives, and denigrate her decisions when his would have been different. And then he would, ten pages later, turn around and do the exact same thing he had been denigrating her for, but never acknowledge that oh, now I know why she did it/how she was feeling/perhaps I was hasty to say that everything that is going wrong was her fault.He does acknowledge that he was often angry at his wife because he *couldn't* be angry at January. But that seems like a lot for his wife to handle. And it seems unfair for him to be so critical of her way of dealing with the situation when she had nothing to do with the book and couldn't give her side. I would have liked to hear how the whole story went from her perspective.Aside from that, I had a few nitpicks with this book: there were some misspellings (Ghandi instead of Gandhi, for example), and while I originally wondered why January's nickname was spelled differently at different points in the book, that was eventually explained. I still think it would have been a lot more straightforward to just choose one spelling and run with it, though.I gave it four stars, though, because it was fascinating. Even after reading it, I can barely imagine what her parents' life was (and is) like, not to mention what it feels like to be January or her brother Bodhi. I read the whole thing in about three hours, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about childhood schizophrenia.

  • Sarah {Literary Meanderings}
    2019-01-23 15:43

    ♥ Find my reviews on Blogger ~ Reviews by Bookish Sarah- - -Synopsis (from Goodreads): A brilliant and harrowingly honest memoir, January First is the extraordinary story of a father's fight to save his child from an extremely severe case of mental illness in the face of overwhelming adversity.At six years old, Michael Schofield's daughter, January, was diagnosed with one of the most severe cases of child-onset schizophrenia that doctors had ever seen. In January's case, she is hallucinating 95 percent of the time that she is awake. Potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her. January, "Jani" to her family, has literally hundreds of imaginary friends. They go by names like 400-the-Cat, 100 Degrees, and 24 Hours and live on an island called "Calalini," which she describes as existing "on the border of my world and your world." Some of these friends are good, and some of them, such as 400, are very bad. They tell her to jump off buildings, attack her brother, and scream at strangers.In the middle of these never-ending delusions, hallucinations, and paroxysms of rage are Jani's parents, who have gone to the ends of the earth to keep both of their children alive and unharmed. They live in separate one-bedroom apartments in order to keep her little brother, Bohdi, safe from his big sister--and wage a daily war against a social system that has all but completely failed them. January First is the story of the daily struggles and challenges they face as they do everything they can to help their daughter while trying to keep their family together. It is the inspiring tale of their resolute determination and faith.- - -I honestly do not even know where to start with this review. I have never reviewed a book quite like this one.I guess I'll just dive in... I'll start with the good, since my review is mostly going to be negative. The only thing I can say is that the book was well-written. It ended up being quite the page-turner. I couldn't put it down and ended up reading it in less than a day.Aside from that, this book disturbed me.First of all, Schofield's disregard for anyone BUT January was disgusting. He didn't care who she hurt. He didn't care about his dog, his wife, his newborn son. Not enough to do something drastic enough (like admit her to a hospital like Mrs. Schofield did) to help January and, ultimately, his family as a whole. Instead, he coddles her. She acts out, such as running away, screaming, hitting, etc., and he lets her do it. He rewards her! He gives her special attention so she'll calm down. He takes her away so they can be alone—because supposedly, HE is the only one who “understands” her. That brings me to the fact that this guy makes excuse after excuse after excuse for his unruly child. It is stated early on that January has a very high IQ. Schofield leeches onto this fact immediately and will not let it go. He relentlessly throws it into peoples' faces when they suggest he do something other than what he is currently doing to change her behavior. He uses her intelligence as an excuse time and time again.“Sure, I would like Janni to be polite, but I realize odd behavior is a by-product of her genius.”“...she must be a gift to humanity. I think that trumps being impolite on occasion”“I will not restrict anything, because I worry once she shuts down in order to conform, her full potential might be lost”“She is angry because she is mentally older than she looks...”“...stupid rules prevent her from reaching her potential.”THAT is all from before the book even hits 20 pages! This continues through the ENTIRE book.[to Susan] “I am not going to let you keep exposing her to people that will only make her feel like a freak! She's brilliant!”“Janni's IQ is higher than 99.9 percent of the population. That means out of six billion people, Janni is smarter than all but six million of them!”“The source of Janni's rage is a disconnect between her brilliant mind and her young body.”“Because of her high IQ, we knew she would be bored out of her mind with public school...”“She has a 146 IQ, but they don't give a damn about that. All that matters to them is the stupid rules.”“She's a genius, but these idiots don't seem to get that.”“These morons don't see her potential. All they can see is her behavior.”I could go on, and on, and on. There are hundreds of quotes just like these. If you think everyone you come into contact with is an idiot or a moron, why not try harder to modify your daughter's behavior? Why not do this so they will see more than just that? I mean the guy lets her get away with EVERYTHING. When he finally does try to punish her, he doesn't stick with it.His brilliant solution is to get two apartments. One for January, and one for Bodhi (their newborn). Schofield blames Bodhi for January's behavior at this point. He thinks separating the family is going to help January. He constantly paints his wife as the enemy. She's out to get him. She doesn't understand January. He even suggests that Susan take Bodhi and move to another state. He'll stay with January by himself. He is the ONLY one who can handle her. Seriously? Having a screwed up home life is your solution? That's like giving up altogether! If you don't teach your child, how will they learn? You are the example.This man lets his five-year-old run him, his life, and his family's. Incase you didn't know, Mr. Schofield, YOU ARE THE PARENT; YOU ARE THE ADULT. Hello? I honestly question his mental stability. At some points, it even seems as if his feelings toward January are unhealthy. Like he's obsessed with her. I don't know how to word it, but it seems skeevy. I am not convinced that the accusations of sexual misconduct were completely untrue.The entire time I read this book I was angry. The sheer amount of denial disgusted me. The number of times Schofield coddled his daughter disgusted me. His constant disdain and disregard for anyone but himself and January was sickening. By the end of the novel, January was never truly diagnosed with schizophrenia. The doctors stated they'd “ruled out everything but schizophrenia” - but never stated that she actually had the illness. I do feel sorry for Susan and Bodhi. I wish the family a positive future. I do. I think the situation is impossible and I don't think their lives will ever be “normal”...All in all, this book seems to be nothing more than a cry for sympathy. It seems as if Michael Schofield is just selfish man who wants handouts. If you view his blog and YouTube documentaries, you will see this. He asks for donations almost every single month, claiming his family cannot pay the rent or bills. The last post I saw on there didn't even pose it as a request; it simply said: “We will not be able to make December rent without help. Any donations via Paypal to [email protected]*********.org” - He simply expects it now! No please, no thank-you, nothing! I feel so sorry for the people who have given this man money; fallen for his martyr act. Not only that, he's now saying Bodhi may also be schizophrenic. These YouTube videos he's put out there make the stories in the book seem very much embellished. Janni's behavior doesn't seem anything more than minor tantrums in the videos. And the ones of Bodhi are even less serious. He just seems like an unhappy little boy. Who could blame him with the way he's been raised; with the kind of family life he's been given? Am I being judgmental? You bet. Schofield put his story out there, though, and in doing so, left himself open for such things.I think Schofield is out to elicit donations and nothing more. If this man needs donations so badly, how was he able to afford TWO apartments? In their YouTube videos, it shows the family all moving back into ONE apartment again. So, their rent is reduced by HALF. Why is he still asking people for money (or, not even asking, simply expecting it to roll in at the snap of a finger!). I don't recommend wasting your time with this book or his story. This book is not about January. It's about Michael Schofield and his selfish, cowardly tendencies, and asinine thought process.- - -Book source: My local libraryPublisher: Crown Publishing Group

  • Jo Sorrell
    2019-02-21 15:40

    Every now and then I picked up a book which so absorbs me I read it almostwithout pause. January First was one of these. While it is subtitled A child'sdescent into madness and her father's struggle to save her, it is so much morethan that. I first became aware of January (or Jani as she insists on) throughthe wonder of daytime television, and when I discovered her father had written abook I couldn't wait to get it. From birth, Jani is a challenging child. She never slept for more than 20-30minutes at a time and then only if her parents, Michael and Susan, spent the daystimulating her and taking her to places to tire her out. By the time she wasone she was speaking in complete sentences, by the time she is two she is askingabout negative numbers. She has a number of imaginary friends, particularly acat called 400 and seven rats named Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and they all live on Calalini. Convinced she is agenius, her parents are finally able to get an IQ test done which shows that itis 146 - not quite as high as they were expecting but given her age, stillsignificant. At the same time Jani is showing very different behaviours fromthat expected of a toddler, and she is quite antisocial. Her parents put thisdown to the disconnect between her chronological age and her mental capabilitiesand her father is determined to protect her potential often clashing with hiswife who wants her to socialise in the way that regular pre-schoolers do. Itbecomes a cause of friction between them, and in some ways, blinkers Michael'sapproach. Only when her brother Bohdi is born and Jani is so violent towards him from theday they bring him home that neither child can be left on their own, do alarmbells start to ring and Michael and Susan begin to search for answers. Jani isassessed by psychologists and psychiatrists, hospitalised, medicated at levelswhich would turn an adult to a zombie, yet her behaviour scarcely changes.Nothing can stop Jani obeying Wednesday's commands to hit Bohdi, and even thoughMichael and Susan put themselves in harm's way to protect him, nothing willdistract her until she has carried out what needs to be done.January First is Michael's story of his daughter's life, the battles he took on,the mistakes he made, his roller-coaster relationship with Susan as both seek togive Jani a stable, if not ordinary, life and a safe haven for Bohdi. It is astory of frustration, despair, hope and faith.But it is also the story of a society that still sees mental illness as a stigmarather than accepting a broken brain in the way it accepts a broken leg. It isa story of a society where there appears to be little support for parents ofmentally ill children so there only respite is when the child is in school in asituation never designed to cater for such extreme needs or when she ishospitalised in circumstances that make your draw drop at the lack of empathyand care. It is a story of a system that is not geared to cater for and managemental illness in children. It is a story of a system where health care isdependent on your ability to pay and the health insurer's willingness to do so,so that as well as battling the illness, you also have to battle bureaucracy.It is a story that will break your heart and make you want to fight for therights of Jani and others like her. When I was at teachers college as a young mum, we had to visit a local hospitalwhere severely physically and mentally disabled children lived and I gave thanksthat my newborn son was so healthy. As a grandparent, I give thanks that mylittle people are not Jani. As a teacher, I gained great insight into what itmust be like for parents living with a child with a mental illness. Jani'sstory puts things into perspective. There's a saying that there is alwayssomeone worse off than you, but in this case, it would be hard to know what thatwould be particularly as it now seems that Bohdi is following Jani's pathI thank Michael Schofield for writing it - there is so much we can learn fromhis baring his soul in this way. I hope he and Susan continue to have thecourage and strength and love that shine through this book on every page, andthat the rest of us listen and do what we can to make life better for parentsand children in this situation.This book is an absolute must-read - just ensure that you give yourself a long,interrupted time to do so, and give every child in your life a warmer smiletoday.

  • Nicole Zupich
    2019-02-09 21:55

    This story is horribly heartbreaking and it makes me very thankful to have a healthy child. I wish the very best for the Schofields. It was eye-opening about how terrible the insurance companies are and our healthcare industry as a whole is for kids with mental health issues. I certainly hope this book starts a higher-level conversation.That being said, something bothered me about the author, Janni's father, the entire book. Actually, both parents. With a very colorful history of mental illness in both sides of the family, in addition to Janni's problems, why on earth would you have another child? After finishing the book, I did some googling and find that others share my same feelings. They've been pumping this story since 2008 to the public, they were even on Oprah in 2009. They have people paying their rent via PayPal from his blog, and I read a recent entry that hinted at the SECOND child having schizophrenia. It's sad to continually drag your tormented family through the spotlight. I don't know, I can't judge them, because I don't know what I'd do in their shoes. But at the same time, something doesn't settle right with me about the father's behavior. I hope that Janni and Bodhi are taken care of and get the help they need.

  • Nina
    2019-01-23 14:45

    I downloaded the first chapter of this eagerly - "parenting + mental illness + memoir" sounded like a surefire hit - instead I find a batshit crazy frightening grandiose neglectful man who should never have been allowed to father children. It seems unsurprising that a gifted child would hallucinate after years of chronic sleep deprivation and emotional abuse. Reading through the Amazon reviews I later learned that the author was hospitalized for violent aggression and admitted to shaking January as an infant and hitting her as a toddler. Great, so physical abuse too. Looking forward to reading January's own memoir..

  • Amara Tanith
    2019-02-21 17:49

    January First was tragic.There's no other word for a child suffering undiagnosed schizophrenia than "tragic", and reading about a young couple struggling to not only manage their daughter's psychosis but also to get a diagnosis at all is equal parts stressful and heartbreaking.January First was terrifying.January First offers a paralyzing glimpse into the United States mental health industry and how it can (and does) go horribly, horribly wrong. If you, like me, have the tendency to involuntarily empathize with victims of tragedy--fictional or otherwise--the chapters dealing with Jani's periods of hospitalization are extremely difficult to read. Jani is treated like... there's no word for what Jani is treated like. She and many of her fellow sufferers are downright abused under the guise of medical care, and any attempts by her parents to intervene make it increasingly obvious that Jani isn't a patient so much as she's a prisoner. The passages about Jani's stays at these so-called mental health facilities, with only one exception, read like horror novel fare... or the introduction to a ghost story about the lost spirits of nineteenth-century asylums.I can't possibly communicate how deeply these passages horrified me.January First was frustrating.Regardless of how terrible his situation is, Michael Schofield is a person with whom I never, under any circumstances, would want to interact. His obvious anger management issues and martyr complex make the passages about his relationship with his wife quite uncomfortable to read. His insistence that his daughter is not just a special needs child but a "genius" is insulting to the reader and equal parts understanding Jani's potential and self-deluding himself into thinking that she's not sick--she's just better than everyone else's children. But most of all, Michael Schofield always thinks he's right. From the way he tells it, Mr. Schofield is the only person on this earth who understands and can help Jani.January First was harsher in hindsight.Not knowing how to deal with one of the youngest, if not the youngest, diagnosed case of childhood-onset schizophrenia, the Schofields made a very large mistake: they hoped to pull Jani out of her undiagnosed psychosis by attempting to forge a bond between Jani and a hypothetical younger sibling. That younger sibling came into the world as Bodhi, a brother who immediately becomes the subject of Jani's wrath and exasperates her condition. But as the Schofields start to get a handle on how to manage their schizophrenic daughter through medication, therapy, and creative living arrangements, life starts to turn around. When the memoir ends, the Schofields still struggle to manage their very unfortunate circumstances but seem to have achieved quite a bit.Unfortunately, if you've seen the Discovery Health special, Born Schizophrenic: Jani's Next Chapter, which was filmed quite a bit after this book was written but before it was published, you'll know that Bodhi is now also showing signs of psychosis and may also face a schizophrenia diagnosis. Wince-worthy doesn't cover that.I definitely recommend January First to anyone with an interest in childhood schizophrenia. However, I recommend that anyone interested in reading this book sit down to watch the Born Schizophrenic documentary first; having seen both Schofield documentaries before even realizing this book existed, I'm sure my opinion of the book would have been vastly different had I not had prior experience with the Schofield family and their experience.

  • David Schaafsma
    2019-01-23 21:36

    I hated this book and almost everything about it. The father, Michael, portrays himself as a hero, a parent savior, and is a complete asshole throughout, as is his wife Susan. I thought, early on and through 2/3 of the book, that this would be a book about his self-realization about his insane inability to do anything but undermine his daughter's treatment: screaming at every doctor or teacher or administrator or nurse he sees... but no, he instead gets read as a hero facing the Establishment, gets an Oprah appearance, Mom gets a radio show, and they are media darlings... and no one in their right mind would spend a moment with them. Completely repulsive. Okay, Michael seems to have moments when he can depict that absolute chaos of their lives, maybe for moments we can see the terror and chaos of their lives, and maybe a few pages of that is useful, but he never finally has any insight into himself, his wife, or his daughter Janni. Who needs this? He never creates empathy (and I have a kid with autism who was normal until he was 3, and is now 16, and a 13 year old who may be spiraling into Schizophrenia, which is why I read this book) for him or even his daughter, finally. There's an early accusation of sexual abuse that he is good enough to share and deny... but I have no idea what to think because he is such an out of control, crazy narrator who we can't trust to tell the truth about anything: His daughter, we are told has an IQ of 146 and is a genius, maybe 200 times, this claim never undermined at any point, no one understands her, etc and he, her father, is the only one who really cares about and loves her, and he finally tries to commit suicide, sort of, and many readers seem to be sympathetic with him about this... but he's a raving lunatic narcissist, an arrogant, self-deluded person who actually makes me MEANER, rather than more empathetic, as he might have intended...... augh.... I can't spend any more time with this book, I hated it and their whole family. This reminds me of that other crazy media darling, Dave Pelzer, who wrote the equally unbelievable and crazy series of memoirs, A Child Called It, etc etc and people love him and that story, which seems to me (as their family and friends adamantly claim) a pack of lies. I think this has had the very same effect on me, and anyone who knows this family thinks the same thing about the Schofield family. Augh, I need to take a shower, I feel dirty for wasting my life reading this crazy book.

  • Chris
    2019-01-26 14:41

    Hmmm. I sort of feel like I'm walking across a minefield, reviewing this book. People either seem to love it and think that this is the greatest family ever, or that something's really off here. I have to say that I come down on the creepy side. Although I don't doubt their love for her, Jani's parents are never going to win any parenting award. Especially Michael. Talk about some serious denial. There is obviously something gravely wrong with their daughter, but yet he continues to let us know, "But her genius IQ......" Anyone who doesn't get her and engage her, like teachers and medical personnel are treated with scorn by him and are obviously stupid. I'm sure it was a long and hard road to get her the help she needed, but treating those who are trying to help your daughter with such contempt is not helping. I thought through most of the book that Michael's mental problems were nearly as severe as Jani's. I could go on and on, but I'll just say it was a very frustrating read.

  • Kari
    2019-02-05 20:51

    I'm not sure if January's problems are a result of inept parenting but I think her dad is a whack job! The mother is no better either. The dad is an attention seeker and has unresolved issues of his own and while I am not a doctor or scientist it is fairly evident that everyone in this story has issues. Check out You Tube for more on this situation!

  • Carrie Douglas
    2019-01-22 18:47

    While my heart goes out to that little girl and her baby brother (whom no one else seems to care about) I could barely stomach this self-righteous father's narrative.