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Stay with Me Bets On...

Stay with Me

September 2017

I love powerful slim novels where each page matters as the writing is streamlined and thoughtful. That is what I found reading Ayobami Adebayo’s debut novel, STAY WITH ME. It opens in the early 1980s where two university students, Yejide and Akin, have met and fallen in love. At a time when polygamy is actively practiced in Nigeria, they embrace a modern approach to relationships, vowing to have a single marriage.

Yejide, whose mother died in childbirth, looks forward to sharing a bond with her child and not having to deal with other women who would be stepmothers to her child. The years tick by, and they are not pregnant, and everyone begins to question Yejide’s ability to bear a child. She has consulted fertility doctors and healers, tried strange teas and unlikely cures, but still is not pregnant. Akin is urged to seek another wife. The couple’s relatives prevail, and Akin is brought another woman to marry named Funmi, for whom he sets up a home on the other side of town. Yejide is devastated.

From here, the book takes a turn as Yejide takes on the challenge to get pregnant with a vengeance. The same kind of energy that she poured into her studies and into her business gets channeled into conceiving a child. What happens will have readers riveted to the page.

While this very personal story is unfolding, outside these walls violence is spreading across the region with coups and a new government being formed swiftly. Readers see the challenges of the world layered against those of real life.

The book is written in alternating chapters, giving readers a chance to fully explore the story from two points of view.

When I interviewed Ayobami at BookExpo, we talked about the universal struggles that people have with infertility and the stress and strife that it can bring to a marriage. It is something that crosses cultures and nationalities. Becoming a parent changes a couple. It seems that for a long time Yejide and Akin are in a holding pattern in their marriage, waiting for parenthood with all eyes on them. Ayobami does a wonderful job of portraying that tension.

For those in book groups, STAY WITH ME will bring you lots to discuss.

Stay with Me
by Ayobami Adebayo

  • Publication Date: July 10, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 1101974419
  • ISBN-13: 9781101974414