In Chapter 15, the author explores Lia Lee’s life after she was released from Merced following her cryptic diagnosis. Lia is almost seven now and has exceeded the doctors expectations in terms of how long she was supposed to live. Over the course of two years, the doctors were waiting for the moment when Lia would die, but it never came. Instead, she is at home with her parents and siblings being cared for constantly. While Lia may be alive and no longer suffering from epileptic episodes, she is in a persistent vegetative state which lives her without the ability to move her limbs or effectively communicate with the people around her. It is quite tragic. What is even more upsetting is that the doctors and social workers see the parents care for Lia as being novel, as to say they did not care for her appropriately in the past. Foua and Nao Kao have always cared for Lia more so than even their other children. Throughout the novel they have consistently been by Lia’s side through whatever medical issue she was going through. They care for Lia more than they do for themselves, but the doctors are now just acknowledging them as “model parents.” Even though it is a good thing that Lia is no longer a dependent of the Juvenile Court, I think it is sad to think it took this horrible circumstance for them to see the Lees for the parents who want the best for their daughter.
In addition, toward the end of the chapter when the nurse -Martin Kilgore- came to do a check up on Lia, I was not surprised by the nature of the visit. The Lees have learned to not trust outside people, so of course they are going to put up a wall of defense against this man who is faking interest in their culture for brownie points. In this moment, I understood the Lees defensive measures.
In Chapter 16, we learn about the reason why so many Hmongs chose Merced, California as their residence after coming from Thailand. Dang Moua’s choice to venture to Merced was spurred on by many factors, but the most important one was that General Vang Pao was planning to buy a large fruit ranch near Merced. Unfortunately, this venture failed because the County Board had doubts about the hoards of refugees the plan would attract. Their apprehensions were met with waves of Hmongs flowing into Merced due to the big news. Yet, the Hmongs migration into Merced was met with disapproval for many reasons. One was that they were on welfare, while other ethnic groups were not. This may have been true, but even so it was unlikely that the Hmong were solely to blame Merced’s financial crisis. But they were a new group to the area and they presented as easy targets for discrimination and biased policies. However, even though the Hmong received some resistance from other residents in Merced, they were welcomed warmly by others. I think it is sad that there are people who find it so easy to isolate certain groups from being included in a society. That kind of hate is not normal and should not be seen as such. The Hmong are peaceful people who just want a space to practice their beliefs and traditions without being ridiculed or seen as less than. I think this book is doing a great job at putting ideas of hatred against the “Other” to rest.