Review: January First
January Schofield has been difficult since the day she was born – she only slept for short periods of time, required constant stimulation, and had a vivid imagination. Sure she was exceptional, her parents had her tested and discovered she has an IQ of 146. Caring for her was an exhausting job requiring the full attention of both of her parents.
Jani’s parents decidedto have another child because Jani wanted them to and they thought it might help her, but she didn’t react well to the new baby. She would fly into a rage and threaten to harm him whenever Bodhi cried. Jani wasn’t socializing well, had difficulty in school, and when her imaginary friends seem to take over her life, her parents decided they needed help with her. Most of the people they approached dismissed them, but they finally find a hospital that really listened and, at six years old, Jani was diagnosed with schizophrenia. That diagnosis would tear many families apart, but the Schofields are doing everything they can to keep their family together.
January First, by Michael Schofield is the story of the nightmare the family has gone through in caring for Jani and getting her diagnosis and what they’re doing to try to cope with it. I have to admit that I felt a range of emotions as I read this book, and my feelings toward it are different from most.
It seemed to me that the book was as much about Michael as it was about Jani. He was obsessed with her IQ and seemed to think the world should make concessions for her. He never mentioned disciplining her, but rather distracted her or removed her from situations when she misbehaved. It seemed to me that he was very possessive of her – he didn’t think his wife could care for her as well as he could. He also mentioned very briefly that he shook her as an infant, but that was glossed over. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder how that affected Jani.
There is no doubt that Jani was a difficult child and I don’t mean to be judgmental because I have no idea how I would cope with a child as strong willed and trying as she was and I know that a book can’t ever give you the whole story in a situation like this. As they were trying to cope, the Schofields realized they each had someone with schizophrenia in their families and began to suspect that Jani suffered from it as well. It seemed to me that they took her to different doctors and hospitals until they found one that agreed with their diagnosis.
I finished the book with a range of emotions – admiration for all the Schofields have done to keep their daughter at home mixed with doubts of the diagnosis. I must say, though, that there’s no way around it – this book is just downright fascinating and I found it compelling. I listened to the audio version and always wanted to hear more – I found myself doing more housework or walking just a little bit farther so I could listen longer. I also found the need to talk about the book as I listened and, since I knew she’d already read it, I probably drove Julie of Booking Mama crazy with my messages. I do think this book would be a great book club pick, because we found a lot to talk about!
The audio version of January First is read by Patrick Lawlor and he does an outstanding job – I’m sure his narration just added to the compelling nature of the book. The audio book lasts approximately eight and a half hours.