Review: Stay With Me – By Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀̀

Hey Guys! How you doing? What’s new?

Welcome to my first book review!

If anyone knows me, they know that I love to read books. So when I was recommended ‘Stay With Me’ by Afreada (an online literary magazine, featuring original short stories by emerging writers from Africa), I knew it was going to be a good one. (*spoiler alert)

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, dances with prophets, appeals to God. But when her in-laws 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 80s 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. | Photo credit: ‪@foylesforbooks | #StayWithMe #AyobamiAdebayo #AFREADs

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And boy was I right.

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀̀ was shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017 and is a Nollywood’s film dream.  The twists and turns in this story was so enthralling I literally read it in four days. It is based during the social and political turbulence of 80’s Nigeria and about a couple’s quest to have a child. Yejide and Akin find themselves stuck between what they want for themselves and the desires of their relatives, ‘leading to jealousy, betrayal and despair.

It was ultimately a beautiful book, encapsulating many themes about life, love and lust. What stood out to me was the way the author, showed the story through different perspectives. Jumping from Yejide to Akin, Stay With Me, told the story in an unbiased way. It meant that reader could fully understand what was going through each characters mind as the events unfolded. It also showed the differences and often, the similarities, between the way men and women cope with life.

It other reviews, it was said that Adébáyọ̀̀, depicted the fragility of marriage. I think she did this and more.

She showed us the fragility of humans themselves and that no matter how hard we try, when tragedy hits us we are never prepared.  Yejide tried to harden herself in her quest for a child, but each time she failed when things went wrong. And that’s how it is for many of us.

Terrible things are called tragedies for a reason, they are meant to cause us pain and we are meant to struggle to heal from them. But, it is our connections with one another and our ability to communicate our pain that will help us get through – ultimately that was what saved Yejide and Akin’s marriage.

What’s more, Adébáyọ̀̀, sometimes revealed events before they were explained, keeping me to the edge of my seat. It did get a bit confusing, but once it was made clear, I certainly had many ooh la la moments.

In all, the authors depiction of what is seen as quite a taboo in Nigerian culture, childlessness, was done thoughtfully, humorously and certainly enlightening. She also included the challenges of Sickle Anaemia and the use of traditional medicine both of which, I argue, cause great misunderstanding.

I think this is a fantastic book, I highly recommend it!

Rating: 4/5

Purchase book here

About the Author

Ayòbámi Adébáyò
Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀̀ was born in Lagos, Nigeria, shortly after, her family moved to Ilesa and then to Ile-Ife, where she spent most of her childhood in the University Staff Quarters of Obafemi Awolowo University. She studied at Obafemi Awolowo University, earning BA and MA degrees in Literature in English, and in 2014 she went to study Creative Writing (MA Prose fiction) at the University of East Anglia, where she was awarded an International Bursary. She has also studied with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Margaret Atwood.

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