THE SPIRIT CATCHES YOU AND YOU FALL DOWN by Anne Fadiman | Kirkus ReviewsThank you! Fadiman, a columnist for Civilization and the new editor of the American Scholar, met the Lees, a Hmong refugee family in Merced, Calif. In the Lees' view, Lia's soul had fled her body and become lost. Believing that the family's failure to comply with his instructions constituted child abuse, Lia's doctor had her placed in foster care. A few months after returning home, Lia was hospitalized with a massive seizure that effectively destroyed her brain.
Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
One of their daughters, Lia Lee, suffers from severe epilepsy, and Fadiman covers the terrible struggles the family endures in dealing with her illness in the American medical system of the s. Much of the provision of care was free, but the cultural barriers were enormous. The Lees fled their village of Houaysouy in Sainyabuli province, Laos after the communists came to power in Between and , the tonnage of bombs dropped on the Plain of Jars alone exceeded the tonnage dropped by American planes in both Europe and the Pacific during World War II… Hmong soldiers died at a rate about ten times as high as that of American soldiers in Vietnam. Just leaving the country was drama enough, and given the struggles refugees face today, it is illuminating to read the fight they faced getting to the United States in the first place. The history of the Hmong is expertly woven into the story of the Lees, making this excellent background reading for anyone heading to Laos.
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By Anne Fadiman. It is the tale of an immigrant child whose family went in one generation from traditional tribal life in the war-torn mountains of Laos to a bustling existence in the town of Merced in the fertile San Joaquin Valley of California. This was a historic transition, and this child's story is in many ways her people's tale in microcosm -- and taken to an extreme. It is a tale of culture clashes, fear and grief in the face of change, parental love, her doctors' sense of duty, and misperceptions compounded daily until they became colossal misunderstandings. It has no heroes or villains, but it has an abundance of innocent suffering, and it most certainly does have a moral. At the age of three months, Lia Lee had an epileptic seizure.