The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-...more
I often say that one of the things I most love about Goodreads is that I "discover" through friends' reviews books that I might otherwise have gone my entire life not knowing about.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures is one such book.
My GR friend Elizabeth wrot ...more
Don't read any further unless you don't mind knowing the basic story told in this book (there are no spoilers, since this is not a book with a surprise ending, but if you want to keep a completely open mind, stop now) ...
I have wavered between four and five stars for this on ...more
It's an eye-opener on cross-cultural issues, especially those in the medical field, but also in the religious, as the Hmong don't distinguish between the two. In understandable and compelling language ...more
The story is of the treatment of the epileptic child of a Hmong immigrant family in the American health system. The issue is the clash of cultures and the confusing and heartbreaking results. And the takeaway lesson is in how to ...more
Along with a large influx of Hmong, Lia lived in Merced, CA when she experienced her first seizures. The Hmong and their language and their culture were yet virtually unknown and entirely misunderst ...more
More largely, this is the story of a clash between western and eastern cultures, a communication lapse that ultimately ended up hurting the parents of this little girl very profoundly.
But that's not really the point of Fadiman's book: she doesn't condemn anyone, and, in fact, she points out that ...more
Lia Lee's parents immigrated to this country in the early 1980s from Laos. They were of the Hmong culture, a people who inhabited mountaintops and all they wanted was to be left alone. During the war they sided with the Americans. Their men joined the military some even becoming pilots. When the war was lost, they had to leave their country or die. They were promised a place in ...more
Essentially, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is about the medical struggles of a child with epilepsy. However, through this narrative, Anne Fadiman discusses cultural challenges in medicine (and in general), immigration, Hmong history and culture, and trust in an incredibly thorough and fascinating way.
I find that it's easy (for me, at least) to fall into two camps when talking about different cultures and medicine. Either I find myself thinking ...more
Lia Lee was born in California's Merced Community Medical Center, or MCMC, in July of 1982 to mother Foua and father Nao Kao. At 3 months old, Lia e ...more
I didn't know anything about Hmong culture and now I do. This book also taught me about the American medical system - it looks strange when you step back.
It would have been a good book for me to read when I was in Japan, too, because it kind of opened me up to the idea that people of other cultures can really be sooo different. It's ...more
Anne Fadiman's book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures, does just that. She probably hears the Hmong family better than she hears Lia Lee's doctors, but Fadiman tries to understand both.
Lia Lee had a s ...more
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down tells the tragic story of Lia Lee, a young Hmong child living in Merced, California. Her family came to the U.S. as refugees after escaping Laos via Thailand. As a child ...more
The 150,000 Hmong refugees who came to the United States in the late 1970s arrived in a country and culture that could not have been more foreign to them. The Lee family had escaped their native village in the hills of Laos and settled in Merced California. In July 1982 Foua Yang gave birth to her fourteenth child; Foua and her husband Nao Kao Lee would name the little girl Lia. She was a loved child, tenderly cared ...more
Though doctors today more often take courses in cross-cultural awareness in med school, it's still just a small portion of their training, if they get it all. This book is highly rel ...more