Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo


My Review:

Stay With Me is a story about a Nigerian young couple who married for love, Yejide and Akin, as they faced the challenges of infertility.  In their culture, having children is expected, and they are desperate to become parents.  Yejide’s mother died at her birth so she hopes her feelings of belonging to no one will be rectified once she has a baby.  Akin’s mother is relentless and goes behind her daughter in laws back to present other women to her son so he can become a father.  The couple had agreed polygamy was not for them but the mother persisted and they unwillingly accepted another wife.  Desperation to become pregnant leads Yejide, a modern, working woman, to superstition and ritual and she convinces herself she is with child; saddled with the burden of male pride, Akin does his own scheming to make sure there is a baby in their future.  When Yejide finally gives birth, there are feelings of betrayal and jealously amidst the joy.  The political unrest in Nigeria is the backdrop as this powerful story travels back and forth from the late 1980s when the couple first meets to 2008.  The emotional journey of this imperfect marriage packs a punch every step of the way.

Author Ayobami Adebayo sheds some light on cultural traditions and expectations Nigerians aim to adhere to.  In this compact, hard hitting 250 page novel, we experience the course this troubled marriage travels, the joys of births and the sorrow of deaths, hopes, superstitions and brutal realities.  With complex characters that make difficult decisions to guide their paths, Stay With Me is heartbreaking, revealing, and a must read debut.

As seen on Goodreads:

Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does, but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Measks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.


About the Author:

Ayobami Adebayo’s stories have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, and one was highly commended in the 2009 Commonwealth short story competition. She holds BA and MA degrees in Literature in English from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. She also has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia where she was awarded an international bursary for Creative Writing. Ayobami has been the recipient of fellowships and residencies from Ledig House, Hedgebrook, Threads, Ebedi Hills and Ox-Bow.
STAY WITH ME- UK (Canongate, March 2017), Nigeria (Ouida Books, April 2017), US (Knopf, August 2017), KENYA (Kwani?, August 2017) is her debut novel.


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