Description (from Goodreads):
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.
January First broke my heart and made me question how much devotion I’d be able to commit to my future child or children. To have a kid, think that she is normal, and then find out that she is intensely mentally ill, to the point that she endangers herself and other members of your family is kind of too much to take. But what can you do, really? You can’t abandon her, because if you’re not there for her, who will be? Schofield’s account of what it was like to go through this really got to me emotionally, and I just couldn’t stop reading. I read this one fast.
I don’t remember much about the writing, other than it got his point across. Really, who pays attention to the details of writing when the story is this compelling? I do know that Schofield’s style didn’t get in the way for me. I was left thinking about this book for days after I finished it, and felt mixed emotions. There was the horror of the knowledge that this could happen to me and my future family, but also thankfulness that I haven’t had to go through what Schofield’s family has had to endure. This is a great read for anybody who is interested in living with people with mental illness.