Dec 30, 07
Read in December, 2007
Every once in awhile I start reading a book and I just want to rush out and tell everyone about it. This is one of those books. This is the story of Lia Lee, a newborn Hmong girl living in Merced, California with her parents and seven siblings. Her parents speak no English, and when Lia begins suffering from epilleptic seizures, they reluctantly take her to the nearby hospital. From there, this book chronicles the vast cultural differences between mainstream Americans and the Hmong, and how language and cultural barriers affected Lia's treatment. Throughout the book, Fadiman meets with the Lee's and an interpreter, and provides historical background of the Hmong people who come from Laos and the Northern Hills of Thailand. This is an amazing portrait of how cultural norms can be misunderstood (or interpreted as crazy or the result of stupidity) when taken out of context, and the difficulty doctors face treating people from various backgrounds.