In this paperback, award-winning journalist Anna Fadiman presents the cultural clash between Western medicine and Hmong spiritual healing in the case of a child suffering from epilepsy. Although physicians at the Merced Community Medical Center classified three-month-old Lia's epilepsy as "idiopathic" (cause unknown), her parents Foua and Nao Kao — refugees from Laos living in California — were convinced, according to their religion, that her soul had fled her body and become lost.

Anne Fadiman presents a dramatic account of the arrogance and inflexibility of Lia's doctors who at one point put this little girl into foster care after her parents refused to give her the drugs that were making her sicker. This medical adventure story reveals that the art of healing must always be a partnership and never a dictatorship. The time has come for an integrative medicine that gives credence to the mind, body, and soul connection.