Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

By Anne Fadiman, published 1997

This is a non-fiction book about the conflict between the American medical institution and the recently-immigrated family of a young epileptic Hmong girl, Lia Lee. Fadiman does an excellent job telling each side of the story, so that the reader bounces from feeling that the whole messy situation is the Lee's fault for rejecting American medicine, to feeling it's the ignorant American doctors' faults for brushing off the wisdom of the family's culture. As the book progresses, the reader comes to realize it's much more complicated than assigning blame, and how the collision of two cultures can be so much more complex than anyone could guess. Along the way, the history of the Hmong is laid out, especially their role in the Vietnam War. The reader comes out of the story with a much deeper understanding of the Hmong people in particular and how America can do a better job in interacting with refugees in general.

1 comment:

Lien said...

Wasn't this a great book? I think Fadiman did a wonderful job. My friend was assigned it for class as a first-year medical student, which I took as a good sign of the way medicine and patient care is going.