Book Review – Stay With Me

by Ayobami Adebayo (Canongate) ISBN: 9781782119586

Stay With Me is an intimate look at a marriage and related relationships set against the backdrop of 1980s Nigeria.

Yejide has been unable to bear children despite trying everything. She undergoes the humiliation of being treated as a lesser being at the hands of her mother-in-law, Moomi.  As time stretches, and Yejide remains barren, Moomi insists that Akin, Yejide’s husband, takes a second wife.

Yejide is engulfed by overwhelming emotions as she is faced with having to share Akin with a new wife, Funmi.  When, after two months, Funmi is also not pregnant, Moomi insists that Yejide is the cause of her son’s mishaps. Moomi forces Yejide to undergo a strange ritual, which involve a goat and several religious leaders. Yejide tries hard to appease both Akin and Moomi, and goes ahead while harbouring misgivings. Finally, Yejide bears Akin children, but even then her happiness is not assured.

Stay With Me is a stunning, understated portrayal of life in Nigeria. It delves deep into the secret lives of women and the demands made on them. Through Yejide and Akin’s story, we see the effect societal expectations have on families.The book is simply breath-taking.

Merissa Himraj

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