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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Learn more about the 2017 Cal Maritime New Student Common Reading book
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia's parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest, and the Salon Book Award, Anne Fadiman's compassionate account of this cultural impasse is literary journalism at its finest.
"Ms. Fadiman tells her story with a novelist's grace, playing the role of cultural broker, comprehending those who do not comprehend each other and perceiving what might have been done or said to make the outcome different. She has read widely in the anthropological literature on the Hmong, the mountain people of Laos who, having fought on the American side during the Vietnam war, ended up fleeing their homes when the war was lost."
Anne Fadiman is an author, essayist, editor, and teacher. Her first book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, tells the story of an epileptic Hmong child and her family living in Merced, California. Fadiman's sensitive, incisive treatment of the unbreachable gulf between the Hmong and American medical systems won her a National Book Critics’ Circle Award.