The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down - Anne Fadiman

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down

By Anne Fadiman

  • Release Date: 1998-09-30
  • Genre: Anthropology
Score: 4.5
From 171 Ratings


Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

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.


Lia Lee 1982-2012

Lia Lee died on August 31, 2012. She was thirty years old and had been in a vegetative state since the age of four. Until the day of her death, her family cared for her lovingly at home.


  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

    By 1stBillieJ
    Ms. Fadiman gently gained my trust as she led me to love those whose story she masterfully shares. From the beginning it was apparent Lia Lee's life would be hard to read and would be for me as Ms. Fadiman says, "that of the many sadnesses in the world that I wish could be righted, your life is the one I think of most often in the small hours of the night.” As a high school teacher I've been blessed to teach and care for many immigrant teens whose stories make much better sense to me now having read and been forever changed by this story. Thank you through many tears.
  • Amazing book. Must read.

    By Hollycarrie1970
    Amazing book.
  • Hmmm...

    By DesolateStar
    I don't really know what to think of it. The message of the book is about cultural differences and how we should accept and try to understand other cultures. I got pretty bored reading all the details of Lia's medical history, especially all the different prescriptions. The author gave way too much information about childbirth that was really completely irrelevant to Lia's story. Also there was a bunch of boring stuff about why the Hmong went to Merced, California. But what bugged me the most was that the author praised everything about Hmong culture except that they liked to have large families. Obviously she cannot accept the idea of not using birth control and gives an impression that the Hmong are inferior because most of them don't use it. If it's a woman's body and it's her choice why is it unacceptable for her to choose to have ten or more kids?
  • The spirit catches you and you fall down

    By Man jenson
    Great read!
  • Great

    Wonderful book about 2 strong cultures. This is a must read for all medical professionals.
  • Seriously well written non-fic

    By Z Reader
    Believe it or not, this is a real page turner about the meeting (read - total train wreck) of 2 cultures: American medicine & the Hmong. I learned so much.