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

January First by Michael Schofield
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Aug 01, 12

bookshelves: memoir-biography, non-fiction, arc, read-in-2012, reviews
Read on July 05, 2012

4.5 stars

This wasn't an easy read but I didn't expect it to be. There is nothing easy about mental illness. Nothing compares with watching your child suffer, no parent should have to experience that heartache, so while I thank God that this is not my experience, the very least I can do is immerse myself in the rainbow that is January First.

Jani's father, Michael captures his 6 year old daughter's intelligence, bravery and imagination and the battle scarred journey to Jani's diagnosis with child-onset Schizophrenia. With unflagging and often cringe-worthy honesty Michael details Jani's illness, the impact on his family, his relationship with his wife Susan, the anger, frustration, helplessness, exhaustion and rock-bottom despair. The hostility and resentment that Michael felt towards his wife was particularly difficult to read because I related to it, it's ugly and traumatic and real.

I have nothing but absolute admiration for this type of openness, through a father's words we are given an intimate look at a family doing everything in their power, against overwhelming odds, to ensure the best possible outcome for their daughter.

Michael's candid sharing of his family's experience, the baring of his heart and soul can only be a positive for mental illness awareness, only by breaking down barriers can you hope for change. If you're coping with mental illness or grief and loss you understand the loneliness and isolation; stories like this go a little way to making you feel less alone in the struggle.

I first thought the writing needed polish but the more I read the more I realised, the writing is what makes Jani's story more tangible, you cannot read this and not be affected.

January First is a testament to Jani's bravery and the love, hope, sheer determination, compromise, perseverance and strength to see our children as right and whole as they can be.

I wish Jani and her family rainbows and sunshine after the rain. Check out Michael Schofield's touching blog to see how Jani and the rest of the family are doing. Jani turns 10 this year.
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07/05/2012 page 288
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