This book review is worth 100 points. You must follow these directions in order to gain maximum credit.

  • Mandatory word count minimum – 750 words
  • Cite page numbers throughout the text
  • Add a Works Cited line at the end of the paper
  • Spell and grammar check everything, be sure proper nouns are upper case

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down – Book Review Directions

Questions to Answer

As you write your book review, take notes as you answer these questions. The answers to the questions provide the content needed to write the book review. Begin the book review the answer to #1 – provide the historic context as to why the Hmong are considered, “allergic to all kind of authority.” This helps to provide your thesis for the paper centered on the collision of cultures.

1. Over many centuries the Hmong fought against a number ofdifferent peoples who claimed sovereignty over their lands; they were also forced to emigrate from China. How do you think these up-heavals have affected their culture? What role has history played in the formation of Hmong culture?

• P. 13 For as long as it has been recorded, the history of the Hmong has been a marathon series of bloody scrimmages, punctuated by occasional periods of peace, though hardly any of plenty. Over and over again the Hmong have responded to persecution  and to pressures to  assimilate by either fighting or migrating – a pattern that has been repeated so many times, in so many different eras and places, that it begins to seem almost a genetic trait.

• p. 15 “allergic to all kind of authority”

• p. 18 & 19

2. The concept of “fish soup” Ch. 2, is central to the author’s understanding of the Hmong. What does it mean, and how is it reflected in the structure of the book?

• Hmong student took 45 minutes in a French class to present a 5 minute presentation on the preparation of fish soup. Professor reports, “Fish Soup, that’s the essence of the Hmong. This is “to speak of all kinds of things.” It is often used at the beginning of oral narrative as a way of reminding listeners that the world is full of things that may not seem to be connected by are; no event occurs in isolation – This is probably where the disconnect with biomedical culture begins, we are unwilling to listen to their side, to validate what they think and feel is the problem. Biomedicine just tells the patient, “You are wrong, I am right, do this to get better.” They (the patient) does not do what you dictate and does not recover – and now is that your fault? Guess what? It is your fault!

3.  â€‹Dr. Dave Schneider said, “The language barrier was the most obvious problem, but not the most important. The biggest problem was the cultural barrier. There is a tremendous difference between dealing with the Hmong and dealing with anyone else – an infinite difference” (p. 91). What does he mean by this?


4. ​How did you feel when Child Protective Services took Lia away from her parents? Do you believe it was the right decision? Was any other solution possible in the situation?

• Visiting nurse three times per day to observe medication administration

• Use a culture broker from the Hmong community – insight, understanding, etc.. Still, the family must accept that culture broker, or you have another problem as the one with … p. 51 shows a good example of asking the RIGHT questions and enlisting the aid of the cultural community.


11.​ What does Dan Murphy mean by, “When you fail one Hmong patient, you fail the whole community” (p. 253)? 12. ​Chapter 18 – Life or the Soul – pg. 278

Provide examples of how the social worker, Francesca Farr, worked with her Hmong patient to ensure the patient took the medication needed to cure tuberculosis. Discuss this case and other cases in this chapter that applied or should have applied Kleinman’s Patient Explanatory Model in providing needed medical care with Hmong patients.






Book Review #2- “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down”

Chapters 4-6

  1. According to chapter 4 in the book, what perceptions of American physicians may have affected Hmong refugees’ ability to feel that they could trust the American health care system?
  2. How did Dwight Conquergood make some headway in working to promote public health among Hmong refugees at Ban Vanai camp?
  3. How may some of the negative perceptions of Foua and Nao Kao by staff affected how they cared for Lia and her family?
  4. How did you find yourself feeling about Foua and Nao Kao’s continual “noncompliance” with Lia’s medication regimen?
  5. Describe how Merced’s public health department effectively handled a public health situation regarding a Hmong family raising rats in the home and how could this communication have easily broken down?