As a newborn, January sleeps for only 20 minutes at a time. As a one-year-old she speaks in complete sentences. At two she asks about negative numbers. By three she has literally hundreds of imaginary friends. All the signs suggest she's gifted. But when her baby brother Bodhi arrives January's behaviour becomes increasingly violent, her never-ending delusions and hallucinations interspersed with paroxysms of rage that eventually force her parents to live in separate adjoining apartments. This harrowing memoir is the desperate story of Michael's mission to find out what is wrong with his highly intelligent daughter. As he does the rounds of child psychologists, doctors and locked hospital wards, the author provides an unflinchingly honest account of parenting, as well as an indictment of the lack of care for children with severe mental illness. But above all, January First shows the passionate dedication of a father who refuses to give up on his little girl even as her behaviour becomes ever more alien.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Michael Schofield’s account of his daughter’s battle with mental illness would come close to being a parent’s worst nightmare. From the time she was born, January—or Jani, as she prefers to be called—was highly intelligent and active, but by the time she was five, she was exhibiting erratic, increasingly violent behaviour that her parents and Jani herself were unable to control. From the struggle to have his daughter’s illness diagnosed to the harrowing choice between institutionalisation or home care (where she could harm her brother), Schofield writes frankly and with absolute humanity. This memorable book will have you experiencing the torn emotions of a parent struggling to deal with the unlovable behaviour of a deeply loved child.
In this dramatic memoir, Schofield, who teaches writing at California State University, explains the mental illness of his young daughter January. During the two years chronicled in the book (when Jani is aged four to six), he attempts to help his daughter, but finally he and his wife accept that she is not just a precocious, forceful little girl with an unusually high number of imaginary friends. The devastating truth: Jani's imaginary friends are near-constant hallucinations, and her violent outbursts and dangerous impulses are a product of child-onset schizophrenia. Schofield's descriptions of his family's struggles along the frustrating, road to a diagnosis the numerous doctors and ineffectual medications, marital problems, Jani's and the author's suicide attempts are thoughtfully detailed. But Schofield also offers valuable insight for others in similar situations, and ends on a hopeful note to his family's unorthodox approach to dealing with Jani.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Couldn't put it down !!
All the best to you and your family Michael . Would love to know how Jani is doing now? An amazing story of the struggle, the fight to keep going, strength, family and the love for your daughter.
What a beautifully raw and emotional account of life with a special needs child. Absolutely amazing. Loved it
I never understood what schizophrenia was really about, the process of diagnosis and the struggle the individual and the parents go through. This book is a must read to those who want to understand it better. Well written & an easy read.