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

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  5,142 ratings  ·  770 reviews
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 “Wedn ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published August 7th 2012 by Broadway Books (first published January 7th 2012)
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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
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
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 p ...more
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
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 (
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
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 f ...more
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 ser ...more
Allison Esson
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
This review originally appeared at

Although I read January First late last year, it’s probably apt that it’s my first review for this new year. The book’s title is one of semantic multiplicity: it represents not only one family’s efforts to put their troubled daughter January (Jani)’s needs first, but also the sheer atypicality of January and her needs, as well as the many new beginnings and resolutions they experience along the way. But to be honest, a more apt titl
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
Randye Kaye
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 acc
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
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
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
Nicole Byler
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
Elsie Love
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 failin ...more
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
Sallie Des Biens
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 disa ...more
Jo Sorrell

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
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
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 co ...more

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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
Apr 06, 2013 Amara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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, g ...more
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!
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.
Carrie Douglas
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.
ETA: I did venture onto Mr. Schofield's blog and am now convinced that he is an unbelievable phony and those who have "armchair-diagnos"ed him as having something along the lines of Munchausen by proxy are probably pretty close to the mark.

(I'm finally getting a chance to read non-school-work books! Whew! FYI I didn't realize this was a book about "that Oprah family" until I was well into the book.)

Most of the other people who have given this 1 star have said exactly what I think.

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