I will admit that I gleaned more from this book as a chronically ill person, but I don't think that should stop you from picking it up if you don't identify with that aspect. ETB weaves in quotes from various genres and applies them as the theme of each chapter of her book. The chapters are short, and so is the book, making it perfect for a quick pool-side nonfiction read. It reminded me quite a bit of Cheryl Strayed in her tidbits of wisdom (although she is also nothing like Cheryl Strayed), especially with quotes like:
Survival often depends upon a specific focus: a relationship, a belief, or a hope balanced on the edge of possibility. Or something more ephemeral: the way the sun passes through the hard, seemingly impenetrable glass of a window and warms the blanket, or how the wind, invisible but for its wake, is so loud no one can hear it through the insulated walls of a house. - The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, p. 15
BAM! She hits you right in the hardest places. Those places you keep to yourself except in the middle of the deep, dark night when you can't sleep. (Trust me, I find those places quite a bit.) The comparisons that ETB makes between her life in her room, stuck in bed, and the snail's life in the terrarium are spot on, even if she doesn't make the direct correlation. At the surface, you might find this read is about the snail, but it's so much more than that. It's more than the importance of a snail's diet or the integrity of its shell. It's about what she tells us about herself through the snail. She doesn't have a shell to hide in, so her story serves as the protective shell. She can choose how much to expose and how much to leave covered. My only wish for this book was that she did tell us more about her condition and a less about how many teeth the snail has.
TL/DR: ETB shows us that you can find connection in all spaces of life, even if you're stuck where you are.
Rating: 4 stars
The way to Alexandra's heart is through a great book recommendation.