“I would learn later that Akin could keep himself neatly folded in while he drew out other people. He was the kind of person that many claimed as a dear friend. Many of those people did not even know him, but they never knew they did not know him.”
What’s The Book About?
Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything – arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, appeals to God. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.
Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayobami Adebayo weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.
It’s hard to describe all the emotions that I felt reading this book. There were moments of shock where I couldn’t close my mouth, moments where I was gasping for breath and moments where I couldn’t stop screaming because the writing and the storyline were too much to bear.
A bit dramatic? Yes, but this book deserved it all. Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s writing and storytelling ability leave you immersed and wanting more. The night I started reading Stay With Me, it was supposed to be a 15-minute quick read before I went to bed. Instead, what I got was a sleepless night.
So what did I love?
For anyone who is Nigerian or African, the storyline of a barren wife and a terrorising mother in law will be familiar. Yejide’s marital life bears no exception to the taunts and ridicule that most women in this situation unfortunately face. The writing is successful because it gets you to feel Yejide’s pain at every turn. From the early stages of infertility to phases of desperation that lead to mental instability and the eventual losses that she has to experience. The struggles of motherhood and love are laid bare in this novel.
The writing was effortless and almost cinematic in style. And I loved that it wasn’t overly descriptive. Generally, the storytelling was snappy and infused with humour at the right times which helped with the suspenseful and at times tragic tone of the novel.
Quite frankly if you watch Nollywood films (especially Yoruba ones) you’ll probably find some of the twists in the novel predictable – I saw a few coming from a mile off. But there were still many surprising moments to enjoy and savour. This is an excellent debut novel and I can’t recommend it enough.
Top Three Quotes
“Sometimes I think we have children because we want to leave behind someone who can explain who we were to the world when we are gone.”
“If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break. But when it’s in a thousand pieces around your feet, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer love.”
“But the biggest lies are often the ones we tell ourselves. I bit my tongue because I did not want to ask questions. I did not ask questions because I did not want to know the answers.”