Thursday, August 16, 2012

January First; Michael Schofield


Author:  Michael Schofield
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Crown
Edition: eGalley
Setting: California
Source:NetGalley
Date Completed: August/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes


January First is a memoir written by a father, about his young daughter's early descent into madness.  January Schofield was an exceptionally bright little girl with an IQ of 146.  Fairly early on her parents suspected she was different, when she was unable to interact appropriately with other children and participate in normal play dates etc.  At least initially they attributed her preference for imaginary friends and her non stop energy level to being exceptionally bright.  The couple even felt that having a second child might help Janni, once she assumed the role as "big sister".  This plan backfired big time.

By the time Janni (she hated being called January) turned 5, her parents realized that there was something more going on, something very serious inside of Janni's head.  Her imaginary friends were not the typical made up friends that young children sometimes have.  These friends had numbers or days of the week for names, and they made her want to do harmful things, shout out inappropriately, talk of seeing rats and at times even attack her baby brother, Bodhi.

Her parents Michael and Susan Schoefield were often at odds as to what to do about Janni, and how to help her.   The book is Michael's account of  the family's daily struggles to keep both Janni and their new baby safe, their attempts at discipline, agreeing to medicate Janni with psychotropic drugs and even hospitalizing their little girl who is eventually diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia.

At least initially, I felt that poor parenting skills might be partially to blame, as I read about how the parents reacted to and dealt with certain situations that occurred, but once I continued to read,  I tried to put myself in their situation (of course I couldn't) and that was when I realized I probably would have tried "anything" to make my little girl better as well.

It's a tragic memoir which seemed brutally honest, written by a dad who was desperate to help his young daughter.  It is a sad story, so if you plan to read it, make sure you are not feeling blue when you read it.

16 comments:

  1. The story is an interesting one. I'd like to read this. I think I would read it more from an educative point of view as otherwise the sadness may bog me down.

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  2. Diane, I like your honesty in the review, that you thought the parents weren't handling it well and then evolved to a different understanding. I know I should read books like this, but I think it would make me feel so helpless

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  3. That does sound like a tragic memoir - I had no idea mental illness could strike so young.

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  4. I generally prefer fiction, but this book sounds very interesting. I can't imagine being in this situation - so tragic.

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  5. I think this one is waiting for me at the library and I'm in a blue mood..OH NO! I might hold off for a few days because I know this will be gut wrenching!

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  6. Books about mental illness and children are always sad and this one sounds even more so. Nice review today.

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  7. This book is on my list...can't wait to read it! Thanks for sharing....

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  8. I think I saw this couple on Oprah a few years ago, and was also somewhat bothered by the parenting decisions that they had made. I do eventually want to read this book, but I think it will be hard and I say that with great respect for what the parents of this child have had to deal with. Very honest review today. I will have to see what I think of this one.

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  9. This must have been difficult to write. I can imagine it took them a while to accept something was wrong with their child, and that might explain their parenting decisions?

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  10. Thanks for your honest review. It sounds like a book that would be difficult to read, but worthwhile.

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  11. Oh my, this is a powerful book. I'm not sure I will be able to read it but your review was excellent. I would imagine it would help parents with children who may have the same or similar problems.

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  12. Oh I just can't imagine what this family went through and how scary and painful it must have been. I don't know about reading this … I'd get freaked out and upset I think.

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  13. I generally enjoy reading memoirs by "real" people (vs.celebrities) but appreciate the warning that you should be in the correct frame of mind for this one- thanks!

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  14. This seems like a hard read but one that I would really enjoy!

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  15. I think I liked this one a little bit more than you did, but I can completely understand your reaction to their parenting. I was more fascinated by the occurrence of schizophrenia is such a young child. I would love to read more about her progress as she grows up.

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  16. Honestly, I don't think I could read this.

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