chapter 15 and 16

The Lees are seen as model caregivers as Lia ‘improves’ under their care. The author describes Lia’s life as one of a goddess, with everyone around her showering her with unconditional love, care, and attention despite the blankness in her face and possibly consciousness. While Neal and Peggy ensured that the Lees had every sources of liquid nutrition they need for Lia, the Lees did not quite agree with Martin, the nurse who did home visits. We see a reversal of cultures, where the Lees are surprised by the suggestion of no medication and do not welcome it, even though they fought hard for the same Previously.

Chapter 16 recalled how Merced became the hub of Hmong population. Embracing their need to stay united and keep the Hmong gene pool within the tribes, congregation was not surprising. However, the fact that the US tried to separate them and deny them asylum, when they should have been given a hero’s welcome, was a major source of discourse among both the Americans and the Hmong. While the Americans complained about the burden on social welfare, the Hmong felt they deserved it due to their sacrifices. However, it was not a debate that Merced could handle due to the already failing societal conditions, and the Hmong added to it, due to their known connections in the locality.


I do not know if we should be celebrating how long Lia was kept alive. While it is a tremendous feat that she was in good enough external physicality, even the family accepted that “her soul” was missing. I am unsure if we should be delighted that a person, who was lively and moving, is now the “perfect vegetable”. I think I am more frustrated with the author’s tone, and the accolades she gives the family for extending the pain and suffering of their own daughter. Reading ahead, I found out that Lia lived up to almost 30, only dying because of pneumonia, but living 26 years of her life in a vegetative state.

I am also concerned that the excessive attention given to Lia, meant the negligence of the other children, as they stated that Lia was the only child who got a birthday. While it is also stated that the others included Lia in all of their games, I feel like if they did not, that would not be an account they would recount to an outsider anyway.

Besides this, chapter 16 brought into mind some of the aspects of the discussion with the rehabilitation volunteer we talked to. The Hmong were trying to integrate into a community that had not seen refugees before and saw them as a drain on welfare, while the Hmong preferred turning the other cheek if they could avoid fighting. The struggles are obvious and many, and sadly, the intense fear mongering today is doing nothing to alleviate it.  

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One thought on “chapter 15 and 16

  1. I had similar feelings in that the Lee’s care for Lia should not have been presented in such a positive manner. The author stated that Lia was the “perfect vegetable”. I have not read ahead yet, so I did not know that Lia continued to live for 26 more years in the persistent vegetative state. I would hope that these years did not cause pain and suffering to Lia.

    On the other hand, the Lee’s were partially correct in that the Western medicine was making her sick. She got septic shock from the hospital, and when she was released from the hospital she had a 104 degree fever. The doctors did not think she would survive through the following days, however, the Lee’s proved otherwise. They showed great love and compassion for their daughter.

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