The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
by Anne Fadiman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 1997. 352 pgs. Biography
The story centers around Lia Lee, who is the young daughter of a Hmong family living in California during the late 80s. Lia was diagnosed with severe epilepsy at a very young age, having her first seizure when she was just a few months old. Her parents did not speak english and during this time there were very few, if any, Hmong translators. So, due to Hmong beliefs, differing cultures, miscommunication and lack of understanding, Lias' condition worsens even though her parents and American doctors want what is best for her.
I have read many books while going to ISU and this book is the one that I enjoyed reading the most. It was both interesting and frustrating seeing the clashing of two cultures, western medicine vs Hmong traditional medical treatment, while a child unfortunately gets caught in the middle of it. There are no heroes or villains, black or white, just a sea of gray. The times I agreed with her doctors and not her parents were equal to the times I agreed with her parents and not her doctors. This is the type of book that remains with you well after you have finished reading it.
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