Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: January First: A Child's Descent into Madness and Her Father's Struggle to Save Her

Author:  Michael Schofield

Genre:  Memoir (2012)

Descriptive Words:  Childhood schizophrenia, hallucinations, imaginary friends, hospitalization, violence

About:  Michael Schofield gives a heartbreaking and shocking glimpse into parenting a schizophrenic child. His 6-year-old daughter, January (Janni), is diagnosed with childhood onset schizophrenia after two years of misdiagnoses and inpatient stays, and being discharged despite lack of improvement. The family's journey is wrought with desperation and denial. Told first to simply provide "tough love" and stricter boundaries, the Schofields were forced to face the reality of schizophrenia when Janni indicated the constant presence of imaginary friends and demonstrated a desire to harm her newborn brother, with a clear inability to control herself.

My thoughts:  If not for life interrupting, I'd have finished this almost 300-pager in one sitting. Still, I read it in two days. Schofield's writing had me completely riveted. Having worked in Adult and Child Psychiatry for 15 years, I appreciate immensely the difficult task of loving a child with schizophrenia. I saw only from the perimeter what Schofield lived every day. Parents vacillate from wanting to help their child to wanting to institutionalize them, primarily because of the violence inflicted on themselves and others. With no cure in sight for this nightmarish illness, parents and families of loved ones afflicted should be applauded; there is no harder job in the world.

My friends and family rely on me for 5-star book recommendations so as not to waste time on less than stellar reads.  I'll be recommending this - my favorite book of the year so far - to everyone I know.

Rating:  5/5 

Thank you to Crown Publishing/Random House for this book in exchange for an honest review.


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