Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her” as Want to Read:
January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Excerpt* *Different edition

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

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  6,660 Ratings  ·  915 Reviews
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 Ja
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Crown (first published January 7th 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about January First, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about January First

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 03, 2014 Katie rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...more
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 ...more
Dec 26, 2013 Jessica rated it it was ok
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 m
Petra X
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 h
Jan 09, 2014 Elizabeth rated it did not like it
Shelves: drama, bio-memoir
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 suc
Sep 14, 2012 Meghan rated it did not like it
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 (
Aug 29, 2012 Yuki rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 (li
Nov 29, 2015 Britany rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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 ...more
Oct 17, 2012 Elizabeth rated it did not like it
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 ...more
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 a
Jan 01, 2014 Sara rated it did not like it
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 bizarre choices and did not wisely use what ...more
Jun 02, 2013 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: boring-memoirs
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 pret
Aug 12, 2012 Lynne rated it it was amazing
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 despera
Allison Esson
Feb 25, 2013 Allison Esson rated it it was ok
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 - ...more
Sallie Des Biens
Nov 11, 2012 Sallie Des Biens rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Jul 23, 2012 Hanna rated it did not like it
Münchausen syndrome by proxy
Sep 04, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sep 30, 2012 Allison rated it really liked it
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 attit

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 p
Elsie Love
Aug 28, 2012 Elsie Love rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 ag
Nicole Zupich
Dec 26, 2013 Nicole Zupich rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies
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
Mar 16, 2013 Nina rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Jo Sorrell
Mar 06, 2013 Jo Sorrell rated it it was amazing

Every now and then I picked up a book which so absorbs me I read it almost
without pause. January First was one of these. While it is subtitled A child's
descent into madness and her father's struggle to save her, it is so much more
than that. I first became aware of January (or Jani as she insists on) through
the wonder of daytime television, and when I discovered her father had written a
book I couldn't wait to get it.

From birth, Jani is a challenging child. She never slept for more than 20-30
Sep 20, 2013 Amara rated it liked it
Recommended to Amara by: Goodreads Choice Awards 2012 Nominee

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 involuntaril
David Schaafsma
May 07, 2013 David Schaafsma rated it did not like it
Shelves: auto-bio-memoir
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, ...more
Apr 30, 2015 Chris rated it it was ok
Shelves: what
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, ...more
Jan 02, 2013 Kari rated it did not like it
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!
Jan 26, 2013 Deb rated it did not like it
January First by Michael Schofield was a page turner, but not in the way that you would expect. Michael Schofield has to be the most unlikable person/parent ever. Surprisingly the book is written by him about him. Well actually it is about his daughter, January, or Jani for short. Jani is the youngest person ever diagnosed with schizophrenia. I have never been as annoyed or as angry about a person as I have been about Michael Schofield. He is irritated by and disparages everyone he comes into ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Kahra rated it did not like it
Skip this one - in describing the severity of his child's mental illness, Schofield doesn't realize how hateful and unstable he comes across. And doing a little research this morning, I find out that he's admitted to being a physically abusive husband and father on this blog. Totally not surprised by this.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Beginning With the End: A Memoir of Twin Loss and Healing
  • Perfect Chaos: A Daughter's Journey to Survive Bipolar, a Mother's Struggle to Save Her
  • A Legacy of Madness: Recovering My Family from Generations of Mental Illness
  • Us
  • The Ra Material: An Ancient Astronaut Speaks
  • Brooklyn Zoo: The Education of a Psychotherapist
  • Letters to Mom
  • Marx and Satan
  • Sweet so Fragile
  • Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons
  • Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye
  • The Mothers of Country Day
  • From the Ashes of Angels: The Forbidden Legacy of a Fallen Race
  • I Can Only Give You Everything
  • No Alternative
  • Twenty-Two Faces
  • I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands: The Other Side of OCD
  • Like Any Normal Day: A Story of Devotion

Share This Book

“Watching Jani and Lucy ride, I finally get it. The song’s not called “Beautiful Life.” It’s “Beautiful Day,” meaning at least this day, today, can be beautiful.” 1 likes
“His name will be Bodhi, the tree under which Siddhartha Gautama was sitting when he achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha.” 0 likes
More quotes…