Yejide has tried everything she can to have a baby, but it seems she simply isn’t destined to fall pregnant. Her in-laws are so desperate for Yejide’s husband to have children that they arrange for him to take a second wife, and so begins a nightmare for Yejide as she attempts to cling onto her marriage, her family and her sanity. Set in Nigeria during the politically turbulent 1980s, Stay With Me examines both the strength and frailty of family and relationships, and how traditional and outdated customs can impact a modern woman.
Stay With Me is told primarily from Yejide’s first-person point of view, but it occasionally switches to that of her husband, Akin. I found myself growing quickly attached to Yejide; she is intelligent, spirited and incredibly strong, despite facing so much adversity.
It would have been easy to vilify Akin based on Yejide’s perspective, which is why it was great to have Akin’s side of the story told so intimately. He makes some truly terrible decisions and behaves in abhorrent ways more than once, and yet his first-person narrative explains what drives him and I was forced to look at him with compassion. I found myself rooting for both characters almost equally which heightened my feeling of heartbreak as the breakdown of their relationship played out.
I found myself completely swept up in the emotional journey of Stay With Me. Adébáyọ̀ communicates the turmoil of her characters incredibly powerfully, so much so that I felt a lump in my throat during certain chapters, as if I was reading the painful stories of real people.
But it isn’t necessarily all doom and gloom and sadness. The layers of lies and secrets, and the subsequent revelations and twists, give the novel a snappy pace that makes it a genuinely thrilling read. Not only that, but in the final chapters there is a much-needed glimmer of hope for the future of the protagonists. That was an important reminder that every cloud has a silver lining.Follow Ellie Scott on WordPress.com