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.