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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures
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Lia Lee was born in 1981 to a family of recent Hmong immigrants, and soon developed symptoms of epilepsy. By 1988 she was living at home but was brain dead after a tragic cycle of misunderstanding, overmedication, and culture clash: "What the doctors viewed as clinical efficiency the Hmong viewed as frosty arrogance." The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions, written with the deepest of human feeling. Sherwin Nuland said of the account, "There are no villains in Fadiman's tale, just as there are no heroes. People are presented as she saw them, in their humility and their frailty--and their nobility."

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

Customer Reviews:

  • Valuable reading for nurses.
    This book was required reading for a nursing program I am in. It will forever change the way I view other cultures, and gave me a better understanding of their beliefs and traditions. Although the story is tragic b/c of the unfortunate cascade of events that unfolded, it can serve as an important learning tool in cultural awareness and sensitivity, especially where medicine is concerned. It is a beautiful story of parental love and devotion, even if we (as Americans, familiar only with our own western medicine) dont understand it. ...more info
  • A sensitive look at the complexities arising from a medical culture clash...
    During my senior year of college, I took a "Holistic Living" course and this was one of the books we were required to read. As I've mentioned in other reviews, I don't normally gravitate towards non-fiction, however, there are instances when I read a piece of non-fiction and find myself as captivated by the story as if it were a novel. "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" was one of these books.

    In her book, Ms. Fadiman presents the story of a Hmong-American family who is forced to step outside their comfort zone to seek medical treatment for their infant daughter, Lia, an epileptic. Not only do Lia's parents have to overcome a language barrier, but they also hold views which differ greatly from those held by the Western-trained medical doctors treating Lia. What results, is an enormous culture clash between Lia's parents and her treating physicians. Sadly, the consequences of the mis-communication and cultural mis-understanding which take place between the Lees and Lia's doctors has a tragic and permanent effect on Lia's life.

    Alongside the Lee's story, Ms. Fadiman presents an informative history of the Hmong people, while also addressing a number of important ethical considerations germane to the medical treatment of non-western patients.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone in the medical profession or to anyone interested in learning about traditional Hmong culture....more info
  • Exceptional and comprehensive look at Hmong beliefs and history
    It is a rare experience that I pick up a book and cannot put it down. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is deeply insightful into the thoughts and mindsets of the Hmong people in America. They can be quiet, polite, and reserved, even if they plan to be non-compliant with the administration of Western medicine, or even if they do not understand a doctor's instructions for administering pills.

    The book demonstrates the tremendous barriers this cultural group has faced since coming to the United States from 1976 on, and background about what happened to them.

    Of course, the center of this book's controversy is Lia Lee, an infant in arms when we first see her, She suffers from a severe form of epilepsy, but is someone who beats the odds and remains alive long past her doctors' predictions.

    Even though she is in a "vegetative" state, the little girl is kept "immaculate," sleeps with her parents, and is carried around on her mother's back in the largest baby carrier anyone has ever seen, all proof of the extreme love that is showered upon Hmong babies. They are considered a treasure, no matter what.

    The story is heartbreaking, compelling, and written with expertise, wisdom, and understanding.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand the "Secret War in Laos" and all of the ramifications it has wrought, and who will take the time to try to understand the challenges of one Hmong family, on a deeply personal level.
    ...more info
  • Great read and hard to put down!
    I bought this book as part of my coursework in Public Health Nursing. It is a wonderful book. It speaks to our general lack of cultural awareness from the medical community standpoint. It also opened my eyes to a strong and brilliant culture (Hmong). I am glad that my instructor recommended this book. ...more info
  • journalistic account that reads like a novel
    Anne Fadiman did an unbelievable job of remaining non-judgemental in this tragic account of a Hmong family facing culture clash in California while trying to manage the epilepsy of a beloved daughter.

    The interesting story of the Hmong people and their journey bringing them to the US helped shape my understanding of their difficulty assimilating here. The author clearly (and in an entertaining fashion) illustrates that the Hmong language, culture (and cultural "laws"), diet, religion and medical practices are all enmeshed. As a reader, I really felt for this family, who wanted so desperately to help their child in such a foreign culture.

    The author's non-biased account evoked great empathy from me for all involved - the child, her parents (and family and community), the doctors, social workers and other caregivers. I really felt that I came away from reading this novel with a greater understanding for those from other cultures who have difficulty adapting to a new one.

    The book really reads like a novel, and I found myself looking for the "bad guy"...but the unbiased account ultimately never provides one. I really feel that anyone in the health care industry would be well-served to read this book. The author presents a solution to situations like these involving the need of a "cultural broker", which is far more than a simple interpreter.

    In this melting pot we live in, this is a very worthwhile read for anyone, but a must for healthcare professionals....more info
  • Fascinating Culture, Fascinating Book
    As the title implies, this book offers an alternative perspective of epilepsy, or seizures, as seen through the lens of the Hmong people. It also provides a fresh view of Western so-called civilization itself, and most particularly Western medicine.

    I doubt there's any American today who doesn't harbor at least some ambivalence about how medicine's practiced in the United States, and I'm not just talking bills and insurance. Foua and Nao Kao Lee didn't trust the doctors who tended to their baby daughter Lia when she began to have seizures; they worried about doing damage to their baby's soul. In the Hmong culture, sickness is a signal of disturbance to the soul, and healing is a matter of tending to that soul. When did you last see an American doctor do that?

    Even had the doctors who cared for Lia known of this tenet of the Lees' belief system, they probably wouldn't have given it consideration. As things were, they knew little about their patient's family: not only did the Lees not understand English, but the Hmong culture is so far from that of anything remotely American, the doctors hadn't the ears to hear, eyes to see, or consciousness to absorb any of it. To them, as to many Americans, the Hmong are a "Stone Age" people, ignorant and superstitious.

    Certainly Hmong rituals and healing ceremonies are strange and arcane--but no stranger than those of the Catholic or Jewish faith: all utilize symbols, whether it's wine standing in for the blood of Jesus, drops of wine spilled onto a plate for Egyptian plagues, or a wooden bench transformed into a winged horse carrying a healer in search of a sick person's soul. Why is it that the good citizens of the United States laugh only at the latter?

    Writer Anne Fadiman decided to look at American medicine through the prism of Lia Lee's sad story. She discovered, and conveyed to readers, the richness of Hmong culture, devoid of sentimentality. Fadiman is careful not to imbue the Hmong with the kind of romanticism that European Americans tend to hold about Native Americans: she does not evade the fact that they can be extremely difficult. By allowing them full humanity, she brings them vividly to life the same way a novelist does her characters--though non-fiction, thi book is as compelling as a great novel.

    The Hmong came to America in the 1980s courtesy of war in Southeast Asia. They'd been living in the mountains of Laos, to which they'd migrated from China. The Hmong never assimilate into the culture of the country they inhabit, and have suffered persecution for centuries. Much like the Roma or the Jews, they're a migratory tribe without a homeland--but I doubt they ever felt quite as displaced as they did when they got to the United States. Because they helped the CIA in Laos, the Hmong were promised they'd be welcome in the U.S.--but when the troops left, they jetted only generals and hotshots out of the country, leaving the rest of the populace to fend for themselves. With the Laotian army hunting them down as enemies of the state, Hmong families set off on foot, carrying whatever they could manage. Many, particularly the old and the young, died along the way. Most possessions were shed, too heavy to carry, on the days-long journey. When they arrived in Thailand they were placed in refugee camps, where they waited to be rescued by the Americans. Those who were finally brought to America were `resettled' all over the map, without regard for family cohesion or transferability of survival skills: in Detroit, Minneapolis, Utah, Vermont--the Hmong were distributed all over the country so as to not unduly `burden' any one locality.

    The Hmong tend to have large broods of 12 or 13 children, who they deeply adore, and they view disability as a consequence of some parental transgression, for which they atone by treating children with disabilities extra lovingly. They're used to living near relatives, who they see frequently, if not daily. The diaspora of the Hmong represented unspeakable hardship--which they resolved with what they call their `second resettlement.'One family would pack up a hastily purchased jalopy and drive off, looking for a spit of land hospitable to growing vegetables and the herbs necessary for healing rituals. They'd end up where all pioneers do, in California, and send news to relatives in Detroit or Chicago or Billings, Montana. Eventually, pockets of Hmong were clustered in a few locations around the country. Of these, Merced, California, where the Lee family settled, is one of the largest.

    About one in every six residents of Merced, formerly an all-white rural area, is now Hmong. Here their culture and community thrived, parallel to the dominant culture, assimilating as little as possible. One way they did have to assimilate is medically: since 80% receive some form of government assistance, social services closely monitor them. American social workers do not have a high level of tolerance for cultural difference, and many Hmong practices, like gardening on the living room floor, or animal sacrifice, put parents in danger of losing their children to foster care--an unthinkable consequence that did occur, for a period of time, to Lia Lee.

    The Hmong had heard about Western medicine even before arriving on these shores. They approved of antibiotics--swallow a pill and get well in a week--but not of much else. Surgery was anathema, since cutting the flesh or removing organs risks the flight of the soul. When their daughter Lia fell into the hands of the medical establishment, the Lees suffered deep agony over every procedure, from IV insertion to spinal taps.

    Fadiman explores the interactions between the Lees and their daughter's medical caretakers in exhaustive detail. Whenever Lia suffers a setback, the Lees blame the doctors and their methods. The doctors accuse the Lees of "noncompliance" when they fail to properly dose Lia with three different kinds of anti-convulsants at the various times of day prescribed, not realizing that the Hmong don't even use clocks. Fadiman presents a balanced picture, blaming neither the family nor the hospital, but cultural barriers, for what goes wrong--and eventually things do go terribly wrong. By the age of four Lia is brain dead. The hospital hooks her up to feeding tubes, expecting her to die within days, but the Lees insist on taking her home, where they disconnect every tube and treat Lia as a favored family member. They take turns carrying her around on their backs; like a mama bird, Foua pre-chews her daughter's food and feeds it to her orally; they sacrifice pigs in healing ceremonies; and Lia sleeps with her parents every night. To the astonishment of the medical community, Lia does not die, and by the end of the book, years after being declared brain dead, she's still alive. As I write this, Lia Lee is still alive and lovingly cared for by her mother and siblings. Her medical condition has not changed. Her father, Nao Kao Lee, died in January of 2003.

    This book enriched, and possibly changed, my life. I can't recommend it too highly.
    ...more info
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
    This was a fantastic read. I spent the first half of the book outraged at the Hmong family for never bothering to learn the English language or educate themselves on American customs, (while clearly expecting every American to know and honor their own,) at the expense of their own daughter. I spent the second half of the book falling in love with the Hmong family and culture and gradually grasping their predicament and finally realizing the one thousand and one applications this book has in my own life....more info
  • Important well-written book, but I couldn't finish
    I bought this book on the advice of many professionals (nurses, professors, social workers) who rave about it. It deserves the raves and it did teach me a lot. But, about two-thirds of the way through, I just couldn't take it anymore. Make sure you are ready to trudge through a history that goes from bad to worse. I, however, may be too close to the subject. The social worker portrayed in the book plays a dual role where she has the child removed from the home and simultaneously becomes a champion (albeit ultimately ineffective) of getting the child proper medical care and subsidies for the family. I am a social worker of many years and I found myself despairing about my own profession. Important book, I repeat! Cautionary tale that needed to be told and is told very well. Not a light read by any stretch of the imagination....more info
  • Cultural Awareness
    This book was purchased for my Cross-Cultural Psychology class and is just amazing! It has brought tears to my eyes. The storyline is about a family from Laos who comes the US as refugees, and as their daughter becomes ill, you see how culture really affects the decisions made about life and death. A wonderful read.

    Highly Recommended for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge on cultural awareness....more info
  • A well-written account of culture clash in America
    Though certainly not perfect, Ms. Fadiman does an excellent job of describing the tale of Lia and the Lee family's interactions with the American health care system while allowing bias to show but somehow to balance in the end. It is very well-written and worth reading. ...more info
  • Not quite the enlightenment it's made out to be.
    Many of the reviews here praise the book for its balance in presenting two sides of a serious cultural clash- one that leaves a little girl brain dead by the end. Ostensibly, neither side is right nor wrong, and well, the fact that this girl ends up as a vegetable is just how it goes in this awkward dance between the Hmong family and the American doctors treating her.

    Phooey. A little girl gets treated by competent, caring doctors, who do their damnedest to insure that this girl gets the care she deserves, and her superstitious family stymies their every attempt at healing. They throw vital anti-seizure medicine away, ignore it on the shelf, double dose when they do remember, and otherwise cling to their animistic beliefs in trying to cure her. There is no doubt that the family loves this girl, but it breaks my heart to see such utter negligence in caring for a child. I don't care that they have these charming native ceremonies or are a proud, downtrodden race. Presented with the best medicine the world can offer, they prefer to sacrifice chickens instead- and wonder why their girl falls apart at the seams.

    If anything, this book is a stark, yet unconscious, advertisement for missionaries to go and "tame the savages". On every page I wanted to slap the parents silly, and have their custody terminated by the state.

    I generally feel uncomfortable at making jingoistic statements about how we in the west know what's best for the world, but my god, what more obvious illustration can there be than this book? ...more info
  • Fair
    This was a required reading for my college class. It was a good read, story base; yet, it was also a frustrating read. Trying to get past the authors too many details - took you on sides roads from the real story. It is a sad story....more info
  • great book
    This was an outstanding book. You may need to be a social anthropologist at heart to really love it, but the book was so enlightening on so many different levels. The background and customs of the Hmong are fascinating, and their clash with western culture is eye opening. I learned so much, not just about the Hmong, but about my own beliefs....more info
  • BORING
    Had to read this book for school... it took everything I had not to throw it in the fireplace and turn it to ash. What a ridiculous thing to write about - foreigners who can't read or write English & their child is hurt. Compassion for child? Yes. Compassion for parents? No.
    This is a boring read.. move on to something else if this is not a mandatory read....more info
  • Drowning in Details...No Matter How Fascinating
    While I am only about half way through this book, I'm so very frustrated with it that I felt compelled to write a review. I won't deny that the subject matter of this book is both heart wrenching and, at times, appalling as the reader is taken on a difficult journey of exploring 2 cultures clashing at the expense of a defenseless child. However the writers overuse of details, her desire to focus on the menusha and her tangents and asides really bog down this book for me. Perhaps her having written mostly for publications hasn't cultivated her writing so that a successful book might result. This story may have been better told in a 3 or 4 part magazine series or on multi-night series on Dateline or 20/20. I will stick with this book since it is my Book Club read and (perhaps) I will reconsider my strong feelings as I read on, but I feel the writer has done this story an injustice....more info
  • A well-balanced case study that reads like a novel
    Fadiman's well-researched and multi-faceted book recounts a particular clash of cultures between a Hmong family that fled the effects of the Quiet War in Laos for the US, and their tribulations with the Merced County, CA medical system. This particularly vicious clash would eventually lead to increased emphasis on intercultural relations and understanding, but only after creating much anger and friction between the immigrant Hmong and US medical community. Fadiman's resultant well-balanced case study reads more like a novel than a nonfiction book. What could have been a long--interesting, but NOT action-packed--block of Laotion/Hmong history, Fadiman integrates seamlessly into her account of a stricken girl, her misunderstood (and misunderstanding) parents, and the frustrated doctors whose efforts to help made her condition worse. I couldn't put it down, I had to know what would happen next, yet enjoyed the many intercultural anecdotes. And how have I never heard of the Quiet War? Was I sick when that was covered in history class? (no, it just never comes up). This was one of the best books I've read for a class--recommended....more info
  • A Must Read for Medical Professionals, but an Excellent Read for Everyone
    The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman is simply an excellent read. Fadiman skillfully describes the collision of two worlds, western medicine and traditional Hmong culture, by using the case of one little girl as a springboard to explain the historical, cultural and spiritual background of this collision. As these two cultures had to coexist for optimal treatment, the reader is shown honestly and sympathetically how difficult that coexistence can be to develop and maintain.

    For me, the book's greatest merit is how Fadiman weaves the historical, sociological and anthropological background into Lia's story so well that it reads almost like a novel. It's informative, but also powerful, personal and thought-provoking. As a westerner, Fadiman is sympathetic to the doctors, their training and their perspective, but at the same time, she isn't afraid to criticize them or the Western medical system. This book was highly recommended to me (thanks Charlene!) and I would pass it along with the same high recommendation. Even if learning about the Hmong isn't high on your list of intellectual pursuits, I found a lot of the same observations and lessons about medical care were applicable to families who prefer alternative and natural treatments, a growing population. It's truly a must read if you are in any medical field, and a good read no matter who you are. ...more info
  • wonderful book
    a very interesting review of culture clashes, as well as an eye opener to the public of how difficult it is for medical professionals in the US to take care of a multitude of culturally diverse persons, while sticking to the standards of care established by biomedicine. I am glad that this was a required text for one of my classes, or I would have never even heard of this book; it has even helped me in my own practice to be more open minded and culturally sensitive (not completely, mind you, but just enough to appreciate why i get frustrated as well as why some of the families I care for get frustrated too.)...more info
  • What else can I add? Except this is my favorite book, ever.
    If anyone's been patient enough to read all hundred-plus reviews up to this point, they already know what this book is about, how well-written it was, how well researched, and how terribly humane.

    All I can add is that, though I read (well, start, at any rate) about a hundred books a year, and have been doing so for about three decades now, this is the single best book I've ever read....more info
  • Fascinating, tragic
    Well-written, gripping, thoughtful, thorough investigation into the tragic and seemingly unavoidable events in the life of a sick young girl and her loving family. Everyone wanted the best, but it all went terribly wrong. A compelling example of why we all need to keep learning from each other. ...more info
  • Eye opening cultural collision
    An eye-opening tale of immigrant cultural beliefs about illness and autonomy that collides with (well intentioned) American medicine. We (medical practicioners) tend to view our way of doing things as "right and good" and anything else as wrong. Fadiman does a good job of helping the layman to understand the situation and outcomes. Great read for anyone in the healthcare field. ...more info
  • This Book is Excellent! It is a Must-Read for Anybody Interested in Cross-Cultural Experiences
    I first read this book about three years ago and recently re-read it. I am a socal worker and educator but I have been giving copies of this book to everyone I know because it is relevant to anyone who has any interactions with people of different cultures. It reads like a novel and is a page-turner. It is also loaded with information and written in a literary and beautiful style.

    The book focuses on the clash between Hmong culture and traditional western medicine. The story is of one little girl with a seizure disorder whose family seeks help from California doctors. The Hmong have a complicated and almost mythological belief system based on centuries of narrative. Their views on health and healing are complex and many of these beliefs are not easily translated into the English language. English may have no word that does justice to the Hmong concept.

    How the family belief system and their desire to help their daughter results in a terrible clash with the medical doctors in the U.S. is examined by Ms. Fadiman in an exacting and compassionate way. She shows empathy for the Hmong family and the physicians who are trying to treat a girl with a life-threatening illness. The doctors feel like the family is non-compliant and the family feels that they much adhere to their spiritual belief system and treat their daughter in a way much differently than recommended by her physicians.

    I can't imagine anyone not loving this book, not being able to relate to some experience where they felt that their belief system was not understood by another for any reason. I highly recommend it for a wonderful read and to enhance one's knowledge of the difficulty of trying to truly understand another's cultural beliefs....more info
  • Incredible true story!
    East clashes with West in regards to pediatric patient with seizures and treatment. Very educational culturally and medically. Moving. Great book, highly recommend!...more info
  • comparative cultures gone awry
    my AAUW book group met this morning and it was revealed that this book is being used as a text by very many colleges in their classes to try to help students understand the sometimes impossible task of really communicating with other cultures. it's an indeapth study of the Hmong people from China/Laos and how the medical care of a sick child went awry due to communication and missunderstanding difficulties on both the part of the American doctors and the parents of the child....more info
  • Oh Boo, hoo
    While the Hmong culture's values of stubborn solidarity, family unity, & a new desire to become educated should help them thrive in America, this book should not be a chapter in their cultural history that they are proud of.

    Chosen ignorance, even if due to a defeatist attitude from generations of abuse, is a pretty poor way to show love for your child. The mom never even learned numbers so she could dial a phone for help. & animistic superstitions make for some entertaining stories, but people from an American upbringing that really believe them aren't playing with a full deck of cards.

    Overall a wayyyyy long drawn out, super boring, overy detailed, tedious story. Could easily have been told in 5 fairly interesting chapters & still kept in the sob stories about how the Hmong suffered, don't really want to be here, & it's not their fault....more info
  • A very interesting book
    This book is very well written and easy to read. I found that I couldn't put it down and read it in two short days. It was definitely a worthy read, and I learned a lot about the Hmong and about what cultural competency really means. I would recommend this book to any physician, medical student, nurse, any medical professional or anyone interested in going into a medical profession. It will definitely teach you something.

    Overall, the author was more balanced in its portrayal of both sides of the story than I had expected. She was clearly more forgiving of the Hmong than I think was really fair. For example, I find it hard to forgive "rape and kidnappings" where "the woman was truly objecting" as a "misunderstanding".

    The author was definitely too hard on the doctors, who by my account were exceptionally dedicated physicians. You would be hard pressed to find a pair of doctors who committed so much time and energy to the care of a child, getting called at all hours of the day and night, for so little pay. The author writes that "Neil," one of the doctors treating the little girl, "never visited their home". When was the last time your doctor visited you at home? I think the doctors clearly could have handled the cultural differences better, but they tried very hard to take care of this child. Honestly, it sounds like this girl had such bad seizures that I doubt that anything would have really made a difference; a little sooner or a little later, I can't imagine that this would not have been the same outcome.
    ...more info
  • Hmong Book
    The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
    Never received the book. Was very upset. Would never utilize a 3rd party buyer again. A complete waste of my time. ...more info
  • I had no idea
    I had no idea these people even existed, I think that is what really weights on me. How uninformed I was, and still am, on so many levels. I appreciate that I now have a new perspective on not only what it is like to work with different types of people but also what it is like to come into a different culture to live. I feel alarmed, but not surprised, at the terrible way our government and people treated and are treating these people. I am also alarmed at my own ignorance. ...more info
  • a real eye-opener
    A fascinating case study of a Hmong family's profoundly frustrating encounter with a county medical center in rural California. The book is very well written, and gave me fresh insight into what it really means for us to be a "nation of immigrants." My only frustration was with the organization of the book. As it jumped backed and forth between the micro and the macro, and between the recent and more distant past, the narrative lost some of its momentum. But that said, it is one of those rare books that has made me look at the world in a new way, and for that reason, I highly recommend it. ...more info
  • WOW!
    I enjoyed this book so much! I really appreciated the author's ability to view both sides objectively. Her story telling ability left me breathless for the three days that it took me to finish. I'll recommend this book to everyone that I know. ...more info
  • compassionate and meticulous
    Anne Fadiman is eloquent, engaging, knowledgeable, compassionate, and extremely meticulous. The research that must have gone into this work is staggering. Although no one should pick this book up expecting a novel, the strength of Fadiman's storytelling draws her reader in from the very first page, and she proves that truth is sometimes more startling than fiction. ...more info
  • ...
    This book is an eye-opener in the sense that it really makes you see the issue from both sides: one minute it inspires the reader to be empathetic with the Lee family and angry at the doctors and the next minute be empathetic with the hospital staff and angry with the Lees.

    As someone going into the medical profession it really made me aware of an aspect of medicine - the collision of cultures - that I had naively not even considered an issue. It also made me question if I could handle this type of situation and what I would do if I were in the position of the doctors - or even in the position of the parents.

    All in all, a good and recommended read.
    ...more info