This Nigerian debut is the heart-breaking tale of what wanting a child can do to a person, a marriage and a family; a powerful and vivid story of what it means to love not wisely but too well.
'There are things even love can't do . . . If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break. But even when it's in a thousand pieces around your feet, that doesn't mean it's no longer love . . .'
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.
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'Stay With Me' by Ayobami Adebayo 3.5 stars/ 7 out of 10 I was interested in reading this novel because of its subject matter. I was also attracted by its cover. This is the first novel by its Nigerian author, Ayobami Adebayo. She has had short stories published previously. I liked the fact that the story was told by 2 different narrators, Yejide and her husband, Akin. This helped to retain interest and helped with the development of the story. I was fascinated by reading about such a different society from my own. The backdrop of 1980s Nigeria added interest to the story, and was well explored. Despite so many cultural differences, so many of the emotions in the story were universal. I think that this universality is the real strength of 'Stay With Me'. I think this was a very competent effort for a first novel. I look forward to reading further work by Ayobami Adebayo. Thank you to Canongate Books and to NetGalley for an ARC.
There was much to like about this novel. I enjoyed the narrator's conflicts - she was fiercely independent yet still had to confirm in many ways, I loved the descriptions of the salon where she worked and the gossipy women. However I didn't feel the novel was as powerful as it could have been, and I felt it lacked something. However I did find the ending very powerful.
A wonderful book with some surprising twists and turns. It made me both laugh and cry. A very moving story and incredibly well written.
To me, the beauty of this book is something that might not be obvious to all readers; Adebayo will inevitably be compared to Adichie, which is flattering, but ultimately a misrepresentation. The beauty of her prose, though this might sound a little tribalistic, is that she is so intrinsically *Yoruba*, in the way that Adichie is undeniably Igbo. The nuances, the speech, the motivations of her characters-- all are an incredible representation of a culture with an innumerable amount of subtleties, and as a Nigerian reader, I recognized and appreciated each one. The story isn't perfect. Adebayo's attempt to illustrate political unrest in 1980s Nigeria never really kindles or is brought to life in a way that arrests the reader; it seems rather disjointed from the heart of the story, which lies in the cultural and moral ramifications of childlessness, and how manhood is represented in this world. It's powerful, simply and beautifully written. I recommend it highly and look forward to how Adebayo's career will develop.
Loved it. Am always looking for the book that is a little bit different. Loved all the characters from the start. A wonderful insight into Nigerian society and the burdens that having to have children brings.
STAY WITH ME bt Ayobami Adebayo This is the first time I have read a Nigerian author and what a wonderful introduction it has been to that country, the customs, superstitions, traditions and a way of life so alien to what I have experienced. The young writer is skilled in prose, characterisation and plotting and this book is testament to her wonderful story telling. Yejide and Akin fell instantly in love and married whlle still students. They have a strong marriage but after four years and no sign of a child the pressure on them from Akin’s family is intense with Yejide seen as the main obstacle to her lack of conception. In their culture it is a wife’s duty to produce children fairly quickly and the more sons the better. Despite visits to soothsayers and and people claiming magical powers Yejide is seen to have failed in her duty. Her mother died giving birth to her so she grew up with her father and his other four wives. She may have been part of the family but was well down on the pecking order when it came to affection and inclusion. Her upbringing with four jealous step mothers and their children made me think of the familiar story to us of Cinderella. When her in-laws led by Akin’s Mother Moomi descend on her marital home they introduce Yejide to her husband’s new young and very pretty wife, Funmi, who it is expected will produce the much wanted children. The resulting pressure causes a phantom pregnancy to Yejide, who is as desperate as the rest of the family to produce a child. Stressed to breaking point she has a phantom pregnancy, denying doctors who have told her there is no baby. For the best part of a year her abdomen swells and she has no periods. Akin is distressed but kindly but their relationship becomes strained. I found the marital and family politics alien, strange but most interesting. The various titles and names family members us to address one another is not always clear. The story is a poignant one and very moving focusing on family bonds and the ebbing and flowing of relationships. The snippets of the social and political unrest in Nigeria causing danger and anxiety to the people places the story well and truly in the present. The switch of viewpoints between Akin and Yejide caused me some confusion initially. Yejide is a lovely character and I felt so much sympathy for her. I cannot imagine the suffering a woman in Nigeria must endure due to the customs of the country. To be told that a baby dies because it must have been ‘evil’ is dreadful and for the place of internment to be hidden from parents to prevent them being ‘contaminated’ with evil is so very harsh. Akin and Yejide have a strong love that lasts despite the tragedies they face. When she was still a young girl Yejide’s father told her that ‘love was like a test’. At the time she did not question her father but as the book draws to a superb finale she recalls his words and understands the meaning. I hope there are few women see their love tested to such an extent as hers is. If only Akin and Yejide had been totally honest with one another from the beginning of their relationship the strain would not have been so severe. But then we readers would have missed out on a superb book and a rattling good story.
Beautiful and heartbreaking, this is a wonderful exploration of how the most personal of experiences can create conflict between traditional and modern cultures, tearing apart the closest of bonds. A promising debut, I look forward to reading more from this author.
My Review: At times heartbreaking but always beautiful, this is an eye-opening account of a Nigerian woman's journey through barrenness. Family, heritage and legacy are central themes within this novel and with an economy of language that takes your breath away, Adebayo introduces us gently and without fuss into the innermost workings of Yejide and Akin's world. There are varying chapters written from both Yejide and Akin's perspective and so we as readers feel the intimacy of every word. We have been chosen as confidantes and the sense that this is not really a narrative that we are outside of is beautifully created through Adebayo's unflinching and simple use of language. This isn't just a story. It is a confessional. It is the kind of conversation you have in the middle of the night when nothing is stirring and you can whisper your innermost thoughts to your closest friend without fear of judgement. What I loved... I can't describe how incredible and necessary this novel is. Yejide and Akin are a love affair that has all the right ingredients to make it work and as you watch their story unfold, like so many things in life, it is painful to see it come apart. It also feels as if every character in this novel is vibrant and alive and this can only be a testament to Adebayo's skill as a writer. And although (as other reviewers have mentioned) the political and historical changes referenced in the book are overshadowed by the sheer force of Yejide's story, there is far too much meat to this novel to really detract from it and I can say without a doubt that it will leave a lasting impression. Adebayo deals with an important aspect of relationships within very traditional and patriarchal societies and asks important questions such as: Where do you draw the line as a woman? What should you be willing to sacrifice for family; for your people, for love? What do you do when your power and right is taken away from you? At what point do you make a stand? If you read anything in the next few months, this should be at the top of your list. It will break your heart a little, make you fall in love a little and leave you attempting to calibrate back into life again but it will be worth every bittersweet moment. Devastating, powerful and every other word in-between, this story delves into an aspect of womanhood that is often ignored and I can only hope it goes a long way to contributing to a conversation that we should all be having. For the impact I feel it has and because it is beautifully written, I give this 5*. Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley and Canongate books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own
I chose this book as I like World literature, not long ago I read another book by a Nigerian author called Lola Shoneyin which I really enjoyed. This book is similar to some extent as it is about marriage, children and secrets. This is a story of a marriage, a couple Yejide and Akin, who struggle to have children but it is also a lot more. Tradition meets modernity in this novel set in Nigeria in the 80s and then again in 2008. I liked the way I was drawn into this world, quite unknown but I did not feel I could not understand it. There was unrest in Nigeria at the time and even if the book is not about it, you can feel the historical context. The characters are all quite flawed but I don't mind, I never expect to read books full of heroes and heroines. Real people are flawed, they can be petty, envious and make lots of stupid and regrettable decisions. The book reads well and the characters, with all their faults, have complex personalities. There is plenty of drama in this book and some parts are extremely sad, the desire of a mother to have children can be very powerful as much as her fear of losing them. And the fear in itself can lead to more loss. But I am not going to say what happens, you should read the book yourself. If you like African literature or you want to read a family drama set in Africa, give this novel a chance.
So much pain, betrayal, loss . After a difficult childhood Yejide had to deal with family expectations, superstition and traditional conventions with just the support of a husband unable to give her what she wanted. She was the strength in the marriage but appeared to have lost the most.
This book is heartbreakingly incredible, and it made my heart ache with every page. This book is about a woman called Yejide and her husband Akin. All Yejide wants is a child, it's what her family and her husband's family want. After several years of marriage, Yejide and her husband have none. So Akin's family force him to marry a new wife named, Funmi. The book explores so many subjects, love being one of the main themes; loyalty, children, disease and most importantly heartbreak. The story is captivating, with so many stories in one, and great and dynamic characters. I loved this book. I am so glad I read it. Along with a great plot, and incredible characters, it comes with a dose of Nigerian culture and tradition, and that really brings the story to life This is the first book I've read by a Nigerian author, and I'm so happy I came across it. This book is so beautiful, and every page I read was so worth it. The main character, Yejide was amazing. She's a strong, independent, character. I related with her strongly and that is amazing to see in a book because Yejide has a completely different life from mine and yet I understand her and relate to her wholeheartedly. This book does have themes of cheating. I am tired of books romanticizing cheating. I don't care if your husband is annoying or if your wife is a freaking madwoman. Never ever forever. However, this book does not tell that kind of story. It is a story about vulnerability, cheating, manipulation, but the author has managed to twist it away from a story that justifies or romanticizes the bad things that happen in it. The mythology, stories, and traditions in this book is incredible. It's set in our world, yet it feels like there is a whole other dimension to it that we don't have in our regular lives. The stories I felt provided tenderness, depth, and meaning to the events in the book. In the book, Yejide and her husband go through a lot of stuff that I would consider the worst things that could ever happen to a human being. They get damaged internally and hurt so many times it's easy to lose count. However, this book shows all things good in the world, as well as the bad. This is story about how love can survive the sorrows and pains. I loved the message, the story, and the characters. Solid read about love, loss, life, (three 'L's!) I strongly recommend it. This novel, I feel, speaks to the heart. It made me ache inside and it is a story I will certainly remember for a while. For every book I read, I try to feel something, learn something, find something that speaks to me as a human being, and this story did it for me. It was so effortless to read it and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Thanks, Yomna
I haven't read any books by Adebayo before but I really enjoyed this book. It was fascinating to learn of the culture of Nigeria and I warmed to Yejide and felt desperately sad for her predicament. The book was convincing and I definitely recommend it and will look out for new releases by Adebayo.
I enjoyed this novel set in Nigeria and told in two voices over two time lines. Will definitely read more of Adebayo's work.
I was given this NetGalley copy in return of an honest review. This has to be one of the best books I've read all year. It's so rare that I give a book five stars but by the end of the book I found myself turning the last page and whispering, 'That's amazing,' so five stars it is. I was drawn into the intrigue of this book from the very first chapter and as I continued to read I was fooled into thinking that this story was not going to go any further than the married couple, Akin and Yejide's problems trying to conceive a child. But as I kept going I became more and more absorbed by the cultural backdrop and the beautifully articulated prose. Set in Nigeria between 1985 and 2008, Stay With Me tells the story of a couple who meet in their early twenties, their marriage and the problems they encounter with meddling in-laws when they are unable to have a child. But the book goes deeper than that. We learn so much about what motivates our two main protagonists as Adebayo weaves a set of engaging plot twists played out by fully formed and colourful characters. All the of the supporting roles stand out, you really feel as if you have stepped into the world the author creates. I like the use of foreign words, the writer doesn't lose you by using them and she doesn't hold back in introducing the reader to what might be different culture to the one we are used to. The middle and end of the book I found the most gripping so there was a nice build up of intensity there that I really appreciated by the end of the book. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction that is true to life, honest, well thought out and thoroughly entertaining. I will look out for more books by this author.
Fantastic book. Well written and nicely paced. Thoroughly enjoyed.
Really enjoyed this, although once again wish I knew more about the Nigerian political backdrop to the story. What really made this for me was discussing with a Nigerian friend, and getting even more context to Nigerian family life in the 1980s/90s. I was incredulous that so much of this still happens! So Yejide and Akim have been married a while... but there is no sign of children. He is forced into taking a second wife by his family, so desperate is the family will for the eldest son to produce his own family. This is just the start in the cracks in his mariage to Yejide, and the lengths both will go to and the secrets they will keep and the lies they will tell to conform to the life that is expected of them. A heartbreaking tale of real Nigerian family life, of love, of grief, of desperation.
I thought this was wonderful; I loved Adebayo's writing style, which was clear and yet full of nuance. It reminded me very much of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novels, which is just about the biggest compliment I have in my repertoire. I felt totally absorbed in the story of Yejide and Akin and their unimaginable struggles to have and keep a family, and was really heartbroken by the turmoil they suffered. I actively seek out novels by African authors with an African setting so this was basically the perfect book for me, up there with Yaa Gyasi's equally excellent Homegoing as one of my favourite books of the year. I can't recommend Stay With Me highly enough. I'll be publishing a full review on Fourth and Sycamore in March.
Stay With Me told the story of the marriage between Yejide and Akin, a young couple in Ilesa, Nigeria during the 1980s. It painted a searingly honest portrait of love and loyalties and the insidiousness of expectations and grief. Yejide was a woman looking for that sense of belonging. For security. For someone to stand beside her, to choose her. Her mother died in childbirth and she was looked down upon by her father's other wives and never truly had that sense of home. Akin was a first born son. The familial expectations placed upon him by virtue of his birth meant that he always struggled to keep his head above water. To prove his worth. But Yejide and Akin found each other and they knew that they had found that person, that one. They found that happy ever after... Or did they? So many stories end with the happy ever after, this one started out from there. The book was an exploration of love and how it could be influenced by in-laws, by culture, by pride and by shame, by trust, mistrust and by above all, absolute grief. And for me, it was an absolutely gut wrenching read. From the opening salvo of the first few pages battle lines were drawn and I thought I knew who the villains of the piece were going to be. But I was utterly wrong. I hated Akin to start with. Absolute hatred for him. But then, and this is what I love the most in books, things started to get complicated. Messy. Circumstances weren't black and white. Grey was everywhere. Yejide wasn't as initially likeable as I thought. I saw that she too was fallible. There was no right or wrong. There were just people. Perfectly imperfect people. These characters were so beautifully drawn that they were capable of eliciting incredible emotion from me as the reader. I loved and I hated. I felt both apathy and empathy. The author was completely unafraid to make her characters hopelessly flawed and therefore all the more human. This book made me feel something on every page. The story also brought to the fore many Nigerian cultural aspects featuring the Yoruba people. I was fascinated to learn of these traditions and beliefs and it grounded the book in a world that felt very true yet also very otherworldly to someone as I am who has limited knowledge of such things. As this is Ayobami Adebayo's first full length novel she has undoubtedly been compared to her fellow Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the media. Adichie is indeed a tough act to step out from under the shade of; I for one am a huge fan of all of Adichie's work having read all her novels and as many short stories as I can get my hands on. I think this author very much has her own individual voice. Like Adichie, Adebayo writes incredibly human characters but in an entirely different and unique way. I believe this will stand to her in the future and am convinced that she will soon be as recognisable a name as Adichie. I utterly loved this book. It was a glorious study of human relationships and the trials of trying to create a home in this harsh world. Highly recommended. *A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Stay With Me is an addictive read about a woman, Yejide, her husband, and her attempts to have children, set in Nigeria from 1985 to 2008. It is a novel about hope and it is the hope that keeps you reading, a hope for Yejide and for her husband Akin and for the hope that hope is worth it after all. Adebayo’s book is often a subtle one, showing character relationships and moments rather than immediately telling the reader what to think or how everybody felt. The main characters are rounded and flawed, often thinking they know everything but missing crucial details. Yejide’s emotions in particular, from her huge desire to get pregnant to her feelings in the important final moments of the book, come across through the writing very effectively, making this a novel thoroughly grounded in its characters. The writing style is easy to get into and gripping, with the narrative jumping from Yejide’s point of view to Akin’s in order to show events from both sides. Neither character is wrong, but both characters think, hope, and love in different ways. I read a proof of Stay With Me after having been interested by the promotion of the book so far and it didn’t disappoint. It is a novel that draws you into the world of its characters and their lives. Stay With Me is literary fiction with emotion.
This emotional story centres on family pressures, secrets, grief, betrayals and shock revelations. Based around a culture that I’m not completely familiar with and set against a backdrop of political unrest, I really enjoyed this story which kept me turning pages and guessing throughout. One small point that I would like to make is that the author tries to bring into the story, the political unrest of Nigeria, but I felt that this came across as a little disjointed and didn’t go deep enough to really link with the main story. That said, this was an extremely great debut and I very much look forward to reading more books by this author in the future. I chose to read this NetGalley ARC for which I have given a voluntary and unbiased review.
A gripping tale of a marriage in conflict against the background of a country in conflict. For fans of Half of a Yellow Sun but sadly just like Homegoing it suffers from a weak end. The writing is fantastic and apart from the end I loved it.
I think this author has potential. I liked the fact that the story was told from different viewpoints but I think it would have helped to indicate the narrator in the chapter heading as I found several times to have gotten the narrator wrong partway through chapters, which was frustrating. Lots of surprising twists and turns. I like reading African books because the authors tend to describe the sights, sounds, and smells but somehow this was missing here. Nonetheless a promising debut and I shall be looking out for more.
This book deals with sensitive issues (infertility, child mortality, adultery) with great sensibility and the fact that the story takes place in Nigeria - at a time when these topics may have been taboo - gives the book a very interesting dimension. In addition, we are given glimpses of Nigeria under military dictatorship and I thought it was particularly clever how the main character's increasing emotional turmoil is mirroring her country's descent into political unrest and chaos..
Yejide is smart, sassy, well-educated and runs her own business but she doesn’t have the one thing she desires and her family expect – a child. The pressure to conform to the demands of her family and culture becomes unbearable for Yejide, creating strains in her marriage to Akin. Akin is similarly pressurised by the expectations of his family, especially his mother. This pressure results in actions that will have unintended and dramatic consequences for Yejide and Akin, and for those around them. Told from the points of view of both Yejide and Akin and shifting between different time periods (which are sometimes difficult to keep track of), this is an assured debut novel that keeps the reader guessing. The author deftly inserts several emotional bombshells at various points that change the tone and direction of the entire narrative. However, there is also humour in the cast of supporting characters. There are fascinating insights into Nigerian/Yoruba culture such as the rituals of greeting, significance of naming and the importance of hierarchy within families (particularly in polygamous families). The story plays out against the backdrop of political events in Nigeria but this is very much secondary to the novel which is an intimate, moving family drama.
Stay with me by Ayobami Adebayo centers around a married couple, Yejide and Akin. The two have been married for three years and are childless.Yejide is already feeling the pressure of being childless in a society where women are recognized for their ability to be mothers. Family, friends and even strangers start pushing her and she ends up making numerous trips to the hospital looking for medical solutions. When science fails, she starts seeking unorthodox interventions such as visiting spiritual leaders and witch doctors. I think that the portrayal of Yejide’s struggles and how society kept pressuring her was so accurate. It is something that happens a lot in our society. I don’t know if that happens in other parts of the world. I empathized with Yejide. Culture plays a key part in the story. I can’t say much about this but I liked how this was portrayed through speech, dressing, and customs. I love reading about other people’s cultures. The book is set in Nigeria at a time of political unrests leading to student’s protests and an attempted coup. This reminded me of Chimamanda’s Half of a Yellow Sun which is also set in a similar period. However, the state of the nation does not have much impact on the characters apart from a few critical times when they get caught up in the mayhem. I still felt like the author did a great job with the setting. Even if the unrests were not a key part of the story, they were still evident. The story is told by the two main characters, Akin and Yejide which enables readers to see how the two are dealing with the issue. It also helped in the character development because we get to know the two better through their narrations. Another aspect of the narration that I enjoyed was the use of two timelines. We get to know about Yejide and Akin three years after marriage. However, there are chapters that take us back to when they made in University and their courtship. Stay with me by Adebayo Ayobami is a well-written story about a woman’s struggle with childlessness, societal pressures and loss. It is through this book that I learned about pseudocyesis which is shocking and heartbreaking at the same time. There are a number of twists and secrets that made it difficult to predict the ending. The beautifully articulated prose, setting, female protagonist and the themes all made this a wonderful read.
“Stay with me” is the debut novel of Ayobami Adebayo, a very charismatic Nigerian writer. The story is set in the Nigeria of the eighties. The two heroes of the book are Yejide and Akin. The met while in college and fell in love for each other instantly. Their story is the one described in this book, making us all to think who life can be. Yejide, is a young girl that has lost her mother at birth. Her father has married other women to help raise her and bring up more children, but none of them ever made into her mother, not that any of them really tried. She was a burden on them, and they never hugged her along with their children. Therefore, Yejide decided she was not the polygamist kind and she made that clear to Akin early in their relationship. They were very in love and devoted to each other. They have tried, but they could not bear any children, and this is when it all started to go bad. Yejide has tried everything in order to get pregnant. She even accepted Akin being married to another woman, only to be deceived by the man she loved. The writer provides a part of Nigeria’s turbulent history in the 80s, through their heroes’ story. She reveals the customs and the way of thinking at the time and maybe even today, in a simply and comfort manner. This story is all about relationships. It is about what it takes to be in love with someone. What it means to trust another person only to fond out that it is not the one you knew to be. It is a story of power over weakness, of love over cunning, of sacrifice over control. It is about motherhood and unconditional love. It is about grief and dealing with it, trying not to hurt the people you love. Adebayo is a writer that has many to say in a beautiful prose. She has come to stay. she is claiming her position in the writing world and she is going to get one and stick to it. Better keep in eye on her and her books to come! ARC received courtesy of Canongate Books via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.