The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures is a 1997 book by Anne Fadiman that chronicles the struggles of a Hmong refugee family and their interactions with the health care system in Merced, California. On the most basic level, the book tells the story of the girl Lia Lee (Romanized Popular Alphabet: Liab Lis), who is diagnosed with severe epilepsy, and the culture conflict that obstructs her treatment. Broader themes include Hmong customs and culture, American involvement in and responsibility for the war in Laos, and the problems of immigration, especially assimilation. While particularly sympathetic to the Hmong, Fadiman presents the situation from the perspectives of both the doctors and the family. An example of medical anthropology, the book has been cited by medical journals and lecturers as an argument for greater cultural competence, and often assigned to medical, pharmaceutic, and anthropological students in the US. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.