Rachel's Reviews > The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
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Jun 03, 12

really liked it

This is a very well-written analysis of the true story of a refugee family seeking medical care in the United States. Anne Fadiman thoughtfully explores the Hmong culture as she details the case of the Lee family and their attempts to help their epileptic daughter. Fadiman clearly demonstrates that there is more to effective communication then spoken language (although the language barrier definitely presents its own unique set of problems -- a lack of trained Hmong/English translators being just one). The American doctors were also challenged with dealing with a family that comes from a culture of significantly different religious/spiritual beliefs while still trying to develop an effective treatment plan. I've never read a nonfiction book quite like this; the writing is thoughtful and elegant, informative and moving, observational without being judgmental. There are a few passages that deal with the history of the Hmong people that I found a little extraneous, but mostly I was impressed by the meticulous research done by the author and touched by the story she so tenderly explores.
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