Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Rating: 4.5 stars
Expected publication date: August 22, 2017
Note: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Stay With Me is an amazing and tragic story about how obsession and lies can destroy a marriage. All Yejide wants is a child. She is desperate but content to keep trying until her husband Akin’s family convince him to take a second wife. Then it becomes an obsession. Akin loves Yejide and never means to hurt her, but seeing how deep her obsession goes convinces him he must take desperate action.
I loved that we got to see the story from both the husband’s and wife’s side (and Adebayo did a great job fleshing out each of their unique perspectives). While they both made mistakes, they were trying to do the best they could. Some of their worst mistakes were made out of fear, and even though it doesn’t make anything excusable or forgivable, it does make it human. So many of our worst decisions are made out of fear.
The main plot of desperately trying to conceive made me reflect on how women were and still are viewed in society today. Why is motherhood considered the main and most important identity for women? Is it possible to have a happy life without children? Even though Yejide desperately wanted a child herself, a lot of her anguish was caused by the expectations and judgement of her husband’s family who viewed a childless wife as less than a woman. Her mother-in-law did talk about the strength of women, but that strength is a direct result of their role as mothers.
Both Yejide and Akin go through unthinkable loss throughout the story, and they have to decide whether to not their marriage can survive. The main events take place in the late 1980’s in Nigeria, but the story itself is timeless. Even though it was a depressing read, the ending gave us a bit of hope.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in examining the complexities of marriage, motherhood, and loss.