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Book Reviews and Other Media
December 2000

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

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by Ann Fadiman, 341 pp, $14 (paperback), ISBN 0-37452-564-1, New York, NY, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998.


Copyright 2000 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2000

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000;154(12):1277-1278. doi:10.1001/archpedi.154.12.1277

In her meticulously researched, carefully crafted, and beautifully written book, Ann Fadiman tells the story of Lia Lee, a young Hmong child in Merced, Calif, whose severe epilepsy leads to a collision between the very different cultures of the Hmong and Lia's Western physicians. Having heard about Lia's story through friends, Ms Fadiman traveled west to Merced to investigate. It is clear from the outset of the book that the real story was far more complex, the cultural gulf far wider, and the effects on her own life were far more profound than she ever could have envisioned. For any reader, with or without a medical background, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is sure to captivate, charm, and educate.

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