January First by Michael Schofield

January First by Michael Schofield
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: August 2012
Categories: Mental Health, Personal Memoir

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 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. 

My Thoughts:

  1. That poor, poor girl 😦
  2. Her poor little brother. Omg.
  3. Why in the hell did they get a dog? 
  4. Is the author’s wife really that cold and clueless?
  5. Are the author and his wife still married?
  6. I’d divorce him if he wrote about me like this.
  7. Huh. This guy is kinda a dick.
  8. Thank God none of my kids have schizophrenia because, wow. 
  9. I. Can’t. Stop. Reading. This. It’s like a train wreck of crazy that I can’t look away from.
  10. Whew!
Have you read this? What did you think? 

21 thoughts on “January First by Michael Schofield

  1. This is nonfiction?! Oh my gosh, I don't know if I could handle this. Unfortunately, I've known several people close to me with severe mental illness, and it certainly takes its toll. Wow. 6 years old. Is it super depressing?


  2. Oh my goodness, non-fiction! And a memoir about schizofrenia no less! I've not heard of this book before but I think I'd feel compelled to read it in one go while at the same time feeling quite horrified. I hope the author feels that she could let go of her anger after writing this…


  3. I feel like a book like this would be scarier for those of us who are parents than any horror novel we could read. I'm not sure my mama heart could handle this one. I might be the one sleeping in my son's bed at night!


  4. I agree with your points! I think that any relationship would be under strain in such a situation though, and didn't judge his wife as harshly as I might have because I figured he was probably too close to the situation to give a truly objective view of her reaction. But I did think he doesn't sugarcoat his actions/reactions either, which was good.


  5. I have been wanting to read this. I had no idea the author had portrayed his wife in such a negative light. Of course, an experience like this will change a marriage, and there is usually one partner who is in more denial/less invested in treatment. I am even more curious about the book now.


  6. Wow. Just reading the synposis for me was heart-wrenching. I cannot imagine as a parent, watching your child go through this. I also didn't know that schizophrenia was more severe in children than adults. I can imagine that this would put a severe strain on a marriage, and a family. I am interested in this book, but it sounds so heartwrenching… Gah.


  7. Wow, sounds like a difficult read and also ouch for the way it sounds like he wrote. I kinda feel bad for the wife from the sound of it. And a dog? Really? A life like that and you add a dog?


  8. My heart ached for this family..but at the same time I kept thinking that the dad was coming across as kinda jerky 😦 Then again, how would I deal with a situation like that? I have no idea and I'm lucky that I'll never know.


  9. I cannot imagine having a child with a mental illness, let alone something as difficult as schizophrenia. Raising children is difficult enough without adding the trauma of that. I'm not a huge fan of memoirs but this one does sound intriguing, if heart wrenching.


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