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January first : a child's descent into madness and her father's struggle to save her by Michael Schofield

  1. 00
    The Price of Silence: A Mom's Perspective on Mental Illness by Liza Long (akblanchard)
    akblanchard: Both books are about severe childhood mental illness and its effect on families.
  2. 00
    Memories of Summer by Ruth White (meggyweg)

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Harrowing, riveting and heartbreaking. This memoir about a father's fight to help is young daughter from descending into schizophrenia was nail-biting. This is an incredibly fast read that I was unable to put down. ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
This is a raw, sad, yet inspiring book written by a father who so deeply loves his four year old daughter, he will do anything to help find resources for her bizarre and violent behaviors. Hearing voices of pretend friends, January (Janni) drops in and out of reality.

After a long, arduous journey, and many trips to hospitals and institutions who were at a loss to help, finally Janni was diagnosed with the worst-case early onset schizophrenia case on record.

Highly recommended, primarily because it gives a very telling description of this nasty severe mental illness, and affirms the depths of love of parents who will go to the ends of the earth for the child they love. ( )
  Whisper1 | Jun 22, 2016 |
This is a raw, heart-wrenching story of a family struggling to cope with their young daughter's violent schizophrenia. Narrated by the father, Michael doesn't spare any punches as he takes the reader on an emotional journey as he and his wife battle with the symptoms of Janni's mental illness. With painful honesty Michael talks about his fears, hopes and dreams for his little girl. Having a close relative with schizophrenia I can totally empathise with Michael. My family and I have had to deal with the emotional roller-coaster, hallucinations, violence, endless doctors and hospital visits for many, many years. Although I didn't always agree with the parents' decisions, their unconditional love for Janni is clearly evident on every page. A powerful and fascinating read. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
Working with mentally ill children, I was instantly intrigued. Jani's story is compelling & it mirrors stories I've heard and even some I've witnessed. Having worked with a few children with the diagnosis of child onset schizophrenia, I get it- I get what Micheal was dealing with. What I don't get is his pure narcissism. He is the reason I rated this 4 stars. Michael's obsession with being the only one who can help Jani is tiring. As is some of the tactics he uses. I can sympathize with his plight, but I still can't get over some of the things he did and some of the things he chose to overlook and ignore. He was either sticking his head in the sand or screaming from the rooftops that he (and he alone) is the solution to Jani's struggles.
Overall, January First is an interesting look into the eyes of child onset schizophrenia... as well as a look into the eyes of a father who happily takes on the role of martyr. ( )
  littlebirdreads | Feb 10, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Sad and honest account of a father's struggle to maintain his family's sanity while his small daughter succumbs to her psychosis. The thought of having to deal with the mental health system, insurance and the violence of your own child is terrifying, and the book details the long struggle of a family with a severe case of childhood-onset schizophrenia - a diagnosis the medical community (and insurers) are more than hesitant to consider. The book focuses on the father, the family and Janni herself - but side issues, such as the reluctance of Blue Cross to pay for treatment and the inhumanity of a mental health facility towards Janni and the family are also highlighted. The school comes out a bit better, which is remarkable considering their supposed lack of expertise compared to the doctors and hospitals. I did find myself wishing the mother could stop trying to set up "play dates," which were obviously going to result in madness…and wishing the father could detach a bit as well, but it's easy to judge an impossible situation from the outside when you're not the one living it. I did think their solution at the end - living in two apartments for the safety of the little brother - was clever. I hope they continue to create solutions for the unmarked territory they have to travel through. ( )
  kishields | Nov 23, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307719081, Hardcover)

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. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:14 -0400)

A brilliant and harrowingly honest memoir, this 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.

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