JANUARY FIRST by Michael Schofield


A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her
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A father descends into the emotional depths of his daughter’s schizophrenia.

In his debut memoir, Schofield (English/California State Univ., Northridge) provides a brutally honest account of his young daughter, January, whose violent outbreaks crippled their family. January’s behavior worsened upon the arrival of a baby brother. Fearing for the new child’s safety, Schofield and his wife plunged headlong into their newly confused labyrinthine world populated by psychiatric wards, medication and only occasionally competent doctors. January’s shocking behavior took a severe emotional toll on the family, particularly her father, who found himself admitting his dark thoughts. While January was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, the long period of uncertainty left Schofield shaken. After his daughter’s EEG came back normal, the author admits that he was “so desperate for answers that I would actually have been relieved if I’d been told she had a tumor.” This stark honesty characterizes the book, whose author openly admits his complex relationship with his daughter. January’s mental illness soon consumed every aspect of Schofield’s life, spurring marital strife, false charges of sexual abuse and a work-related outburst. It even pushed the author toward a suicide attempt. In a final effort to diffuse the extreme resentment January felt toward her baby brother, the Schofields attempted a wildly unorthodox living situation, which demanded breaking the family apart in an effort to keep it together.

An unflinching portrait of the scourge of mental illness.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-307-71908-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2012


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