Title: January First
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Pub Date: August 7th , 2012
Author: Michael Schofield
Received From: NetGalley
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 percent of the time that she is awake. Potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her. January, "Jani" to her family, has literally hundreds of imaginary friends. They go by names like 400-the-Cat, 100 Degrees, and 24 Hours and live on an island called "Calalini," which she describes as existing "on the border of my world and your world." Some of these friends are good, and some of them, such as 400, are very bad. They tell her to jump off buildings, attack her brother, and scream at strangers.
In the middle of these never-ending delusions, hallucinations, and paroxysms of rage are Jani's parents, who have gone to the ends of the earth to keep both of their children alive and unharmed. They live in separate one-bedroom apartments in order to keep her little brother, Bohdi, safe from his big sister--and wage a daily war against a social system that has all but completely failed them. January First is the story of the daily struggles and challenges they face as they do everything they can to help their daughter while trying to keep their family together. It is the inspiring tale of their resolute determination and faith
I am pretty sure I've mentioned before in my life that being a parent is hard work. But I think that any parent that loves their kids only wants the best for them. January, who has renamed herself Jani is a young girl with schizophrenia. At a time when there was really no known cases at such a young age. She feels the ultimate pressure to do things that hurt herself or others and from birth her parents have know that something was different about her. We all think our babies never sleep. But for Jani from under age one, sleep wasn't a reality. The talk in the book of stimulating her to help her sleep showed me commitment on the parents part from day one. When Jani's new baby brother enters the picture I see that commitment triple and come with fear. There is division in the family as they deal with one child wanting to hurt the other. I can only imagine how hard, and fearful these parents were on a daily basis! I loved some of the strategies they created in order to make their family work! No family is perfect that's for sure. But the one who admits they cannot control it all and makes those sacrifices sure seems to prevail here!
Sacrifices are made in January First that I cannot even begin to fathom. I have the utmost respect and really awe for Michael and Susan the parents who realized that there was a need for help in their young daughters life and fought both together and individually for her. Honestly fight is a huge part of this book. The family must fight with the system, the doctors, the child, each other and ultimately themselves in how and when and why they do what they can for Jani. I am not a huge memoir fan but this book was worth every moment I poured into it. It truly is a great story and while my heart goes out to the family involved I know that they are teaching by example and showing pillars of true strength!