What I Read This Week: 5/30/13 – 6/5/13

5 Jun


 The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

This is one of those books that have been recommended to me again and again and again…and everyone was right. I didn’t really like Anne Fadiman’s book of essays, Ex Libris, because I found her to be a bit pretentious, so I was worried about how her tone would be in this book. How wrong I was to worry!

After the Vietnam War, Hmong tribe members were ousted from their land in Laos and Thailand, stuffed into refugee camps against their will, and many were allowed to relocate to the USA. Fiercely independent, they found their new homeland to be full of baffling rules, stifling institutions and all sorts of confusion.

This culture clash is illustrated through the story of Lia and her family. Lia was born healthy, but soon developed horribly debilitating seizures. Her family was thrown into the world of the American health industry – medicines that seem to make the patient worse before they get better, doctors who don’t believe in the power of ancestors and spirits, nurses who are hurried and confused, and people who doubt their parenting skills enough to report them to the state. While it would be easy for Fadiman to blame either the family or the doctors for Lia’s illness, she manages to keep a sympathetic balance between the two sides. Where there is this much confusion, there can’t be a villian, but there certainly are victims.

Highly recommended non-fiction!


One Response to “What I Read This Week: 5/30/13 – 6/5/13”

  1. wildacademicwoman June 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    I read this for a nonfiction writing course in college. I’m Hmong, and I recommend it to everyone who tells me that they want to learn more about the Hmong people and culture. What’s super awesome is that my advisor has Hmong artwork hanging in his house!

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