Glass is a richly gifted young novelist ... Whereas her debut burrowed ferociously, but lyrically, into the aftermath of a horrific attack on its young narrator, this second novel unfolds in the professional milieu she knows, and in the driven, haunted minds of the people who sustain it ... conveys all the drama, dread, stress and (sometimes) blissful relief of a working life spent in intensive paediatric care. Its galloping pace and breathless immediacy feel deeply, even scarily, authentic. Packed with echoes, assonances and internal rhymes, along with some verbal swerves and twirls that recall the prose work of Dylan Thomas (Glass also comes from Wales), her muscular language throbs with sinewy energy ... delivers a string of close-focus, high-impact scenes that blend gnawing tension and surging tenderness. The visceral physicality of Glass’s writing has a shocking sensuousness about it, down to the peculiar texture and odour of the vomit ... No wise-cracking, hard-bitten pro from some TV cast of stereotypes, Laura empathises almost to excess with her vulnerable babies and their frantic families ... At its height, Glass’s battlefield prose calls to mind not so much a hospital soap as the literature of the trenches, the dugout and hand-to-hand combat, from the Somme to Vietnam. This, though, is a trauma-generating war on death and despair fought for us in every city, every day.
... [a] haunting dynamo novel ... Laura’s mind overflows with the language of her creator, Emma Glass, which means she floats along on a sea of high-wire alliteration, jazzy rhythms and tactile description. Laura may be inundated by gloom, but her gloom really zings ... expertly mixes long, loping sentences with short declarations and fragments ... [Laura] has vivid dreams of drowning that make the pages feel waterlogged. She observes everything in the minutest detail, especially as it concerns her body. Laura sweats and you feel you’re doing the same, becoming acutely aware of every drop. Her skin itches and you start scratching ... a pungent piece of writing, tactile and sensory to the extreme ... This is a feverish read, short and immersive, rich with dense imagery and symbolism ... What it doesn’t really have is a narrative, at least not one that you can latch onto with any assurance that it will take you somewhere. You can still get lost in these pages, but it’s Laura’s interior life, not her story, that pulls you in.
Where Glass’s stream-of-consciousness prose in her debut novella, Peach (2018), often stopped short of real depth, here we are swept convincingly from scene to scene with a dissociative quality that mirrors Laura’s exhaustion. The author is a sister on a paediatric wing, and this novella feels saturated in lived experience ... What, Glass asks, do we expect from our caregivers, and how do we repay them for the burdens we lay on them? Rest and Be Thankful is almost absurdly pertinent, and with its devastating close, the answers seem stark: we ask far too much, and for some there is no replenishment.
So arrives the first wave of the covid-19 novels — even if Rest and Be Thankful, which was first published in the United Kingdom in March, is an inadvertent one ... Glass achieves a holistic view not only of the work, but the life of a health-care professional, her prosaic descriptions and muffled dialogue effecting an aesthetic quietude — like a hospital, or a morgue. Anyone who’s ever wondered how doctors arrive at their dry senses of humor would do well to read Rest and Be Thankful ... Rest and Be Thankful functions as a powerful document, a testament to the silent class of first responders who risk their safety in exchange for scattered 7 p.m. applause during a pandemic. Glass’s short book ably meets the ponderous inquiries of caregiving in a tribute to both fragility and forbearance.
This second novel from Glass, a writer and nurse, explores trauma as poetically, inventively, and incisively as her debut, Peacj ... Glass’ image-laden, stream-of-consciousness writing style makes for arresting moments ... Across her emotionally tender, titled chapters, Glass grants readers access to the many-dimensional Laura, so strong but struggling to care for herself as unreservedly as she cares for others.
In a poetic but disjointed second novel, at times as harshly illuminating as a fluorescent-lighted operating room and at others as confusing as an overwhelmed ER, British writer Emma Glass — herself a working nurse — depicts a London hospital nursery ward where tiny humans struggle to survive ... Glass’ character close-up generates the book’s most palpable and poignant scenes; they showcase Glass at her best. But the novel also gestures toward a larger story, one about a profession that gives its all and gets so little back ... Glass’ intimate knowledge of nursing can make her details feel breathtakingly authentic ... And yet, Glass makes the curious decision to veer away from such stark realism ... Another flaw is Glass’ tendency to amplify the pathos a few ticks too far ... Glass, from her vantage point as a nurse and a gifted young author, makes much of an awesome opportunity to report from the front lines of a quiet war.
Glass conjures this fictional atmosphere very successfully, but once introduced to this tone and atmosphere, the plot never diverges. Instead, the narrative plods on — the steady line of a heart monitor without a heartbeat ... What begins as an enticing, albeit mute, style quickly loses its luster. The prose is, at times, so purply one cringes ... There is surely a way Glass could have elevated these devices into something literary, but she defaults to them so frequently that they remain elementary ... Still, reading Rest and Be Thankful glides as easy as any Netflix limited series. And perhaps that’s part of the problem. Perhaps this story would perform better as a short story, or even a novella.
Readers familiar with Glass’ debut novel, Peach (2018), will recognize her inimitable style here: elliptical and lyric with an intense interiority. Glass wants readers inside Laura’s body, tasting seawater in her nightmares of drowning, feeling her limb-heaviness as she falls asleep at a friend’s kitchen table. Such richness makes all of Glass’ writing stand out, but this glimpse into the world of nursing feels like a true literary rarity. Glass, a nurse herself, takes both standard nursing tropes and revelations about the work and brings them all to shimmering life ... A heart-wrenching and poetic look at a profession that deserves more literary attention.