The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down - WikipediaAll rights reserved. So here's the background. Back in the homeland, Nao Kao and Foua oh and don't forget about twelve of Lia's siblings lived in a small house "that [Nao Kao] had built from ax-hewn planks thatched with bamboo and grass" 1. Sounds luxurious. In , , members of the Hmong ethnicity—the Lees included—were forced from their homes after "their country fell to communist forces" 1.
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (Author: Anne Fadiman) BIRTH audiobook
Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
The Lee family were political refugees fleeing their home country of Laos in response to the "Silent War" and the subsequent loss of livelihood and starvation its inhabitants faced. The parents, Foua mother and Nao Kao father , traveled through rough terrain and literally dodged the bullets of political enemies to bring their twelve children to safety in a refugee camp. While at the refugee camp, Foua delivered their thirteenth child. They were then relocated to California, a place chosen not by the family but by the US immigration officials who were trying to evenly spread the great number of immigrants across the country. While in America, Foua delivered their fourteenth child, Lia. Unlike all of her previous births, which occurred at home in a peaceful setting, Lia's birth occurred at Merced Community Medical Center MCMC , because that was what the Lees mistakenly believed was necessary to obtain citizenship for their daughter. At her birth, Lia appeared to be a healthy, eight pound seven ounce girl and the delivery was uncomplicated.
There are two different stories happening in The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. A good portion of the book is spent recounting Hmong history. We watch.
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by Anne Fadiman
Lia, who is epileptic, struggles in the American medical system, a drama that inspires Fadiman to consider the nature of American medicine while also providing a comprehensive ethnographic study of Hmong culture. Though the text primarily focuses on the Lees , Fadiman speaks with many community members and Hmong experts in order to round out her portrayal of a rich and complex culture. Although she is born healthy, Lia has a seizure when she is three months old after her older sister Yer loudly slams a door. Her father and mother believe this noise frightened Lia, causing her soul to retreat from her body. After her first episode, Lia has twenty more seizures in just a few months. Eventually, on her third visit, Lia arrives while still seizing. In addition, they meet a doctor named Dan Murphy , who is curious about Hmong culture.
A good portion of the book is spent recounting Hmong history. We watch as these folks are driven from China for refusing to assimilate its culture, then eventually make their way to the mountains of Laos. We watch as the Vietnam War destabilizes the region, forcing the Hmong to fight for the U. We watch as their communities are decimated by communist forces, forcing the Hmong to risk life and limb to make it to America. Their daughter Lia is born and tragedy strikes: she has frequent seizures and is diagnosed with epilepsy. Lia's treatment is complicated by Nao Kao's and Foua's inability to speak English, making it all but impossible to communicate with her doctors. Ultimately, everything comes to a head when Lia's doctor, Neil Ernst, gets fed up with this lack of communication and sends Lia into a foster home.
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