Wendy'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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's review
Jun 27, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, culture-clash

Fadiman's well-researched and multi-faceted book recounts a particular clash of cultures between a Hmong family that fled the effects of the Quiet War in Laos for the US, and their tribulations with the Merced County, CA medical system. This particularly vicious clash would eventually lead to increased emphasis on intercultural relations and understanding, but only after creating much anger and friction between the immigrant Hmong and US medical community. Fadiman's resultant well-balanced case study reads more like a novel than a nonfiction book. What could have been a long--interesting, but NOT action-packed--block of Laotion/Hmong history, Fadiman integrates seamlessly into her account of a stricken girl, her misunderstood (and misunderstanding) parents, and the frustrated doctors whose efforts to help made her condition worse. I couldn't put it down, I had to know what would happen next, yet enjoyed the many intercultural anecdotes. And how have I never heard of the Quiet War? Was I sick when that was covered in history class? (no, it just never comes up). This was one of the best books I've read for a class--recommended.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 12, 2008 – Finished Reading
June 27, 2009 – Shelved
July 30, 2011 – Shelved as: non-fiction
October 20, 2012 – Shelved as: culture-clash

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