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Stay with Me

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This celebrated, unforgettable first novel, shortlisted for the prestigious Women's Prize for Fiction and set in Nigeria, gives voice to both husband and wife as they tell the story of their marriage--and the forces that threaten to tear it apart.

Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage--after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures--Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time--until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin's second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does--but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.

260 pages, Hardcover

First published March 2, 2017

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About the author

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

12 books1,818 followers
Ayobami Adebayo's stories have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, and one was highly commended in the 2009 Commonwealth short story competition. She holds BA and MA degrees in Literature in English from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. She also has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia where she was awarded an international bursary for Creative Writing. Ayobami has been the recipient of fellowships and residencies from Ledig House, Hedgebrook, Threads, Ebedi Hills and Ox-Bow.
STAY WITH ME- UK (Canongate, March 2017), Nigeria (Ouida Books, April 2017), US (Knopf, August 2017), KENYA (Kwani?, August 2017) is her debut novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,698 reviews
Profile Image for Debbie.
441 reviews2,795 followers
November 17, 2017
Quadruple WOW!

If you told me that I'd love being on top of the Mountain of Jaw-Dropping Miracles, I would have told you that you were nuts! Miracles are right up there with ghosts—I don’t like them to sully my beloved story. But man, there I was, my feet glued to the ground, my jaw dropping, like the mountain expected. I couldn't have run if I wanted to. And I couldn’t have looked away. Because really, I was witnessing one of the weirdest (and sort of grossest) scenes I’ve ever seen. It's also a funny scene, probably the only comic moment in a book that has a lot of tragedy. I had to reread the scene because I just didn't believe what was happening. I will say no more. You must read it.

Like sneakers in a dryer, the bizarro scene got my attention. But it isn’t a huge part of the story. The novel is about a Nigerian couple, Yejide and Akin, who want children. Sounds innocent enough, right? What happens surrounding this “want” is all twisty secrets, delusions, lies, and grief. Add gossip, superstition, jealousy, and plenty of tragedy and you get the idea.

I get so squirmy happy when I think of this book! The story is as close to perfection as you get. A class act. Yes, this is a quadruple WOW, with tears flowing as the story ends. (Believe me, it takes a lot to turn me into a crybaby reader.) It’s one big Joy Jar. It’s heavy on the drama, and there’s this freshness to the drama and the dialogue, with unusual plot turns that kept me riveted.

The author keeps her eye on the ball. She doesn’t try too hard and she doesn’t blabber. No question, she had me at hello. I did not want the story to end. And I can’t seem to stop gushing.

Yejide and Akin have a great marriage, and they both are sophisticated, educated, and modern. The parents and other extended family members, however, are steeped in tradition, which includes polygamy, and they are bossy. No, they aren’t just bossy. They obnoxiously push their agenda onto Yejide and Akin, and the havoc begins.

I loved getting a peek of Nigerian culture, which I know nothing about. And we get to see a tiny bit of the political climate—elections and coups and violence, which take place in the background. I think one of the points is that life in Nigeria is marked by political turmoil, and it’s impossible to ignore. Yet, everyday life goes on. People incorporate the political goings-on and adapt to them. The contrast between daily life and the big scary political happenings in the background is shown beautifully. But I need to point out that the book is not heavy into politics, and thankfully, there isn’t a political message. I don’t like politics or messages, so believe me when I say that the political scene is not front and center.

There’s not much descriptive text—it’s all drama and dialogue—which is what I prefer anyway. I get so tired of hearing about beauteous leaves. Give me talk, and give me fire. And that’s what I got here.

The story is well-told—straightforward and tight—with intriguing, flawed characters. It’s told in first person (which I love), and Yejide and Akin have alternating chapters. This works especially well when there are secrets, and there definitely are secrets. There are two time periods, but it never gets confusing. The voices and time periods are interwoven perfectly.

It’s magic the way the author made me care about what happened to Yejide and Akin. The author’s art is gorgeously sneaky; I can’t quite put my finger on why it had the power to pull me into the story so completely, but believe me, it did. There were a few fairy tales, which usually bore me to tears and interrupt the story and generally make me furious. The fact that I accepted—no, that I actually enjoyed the fairy tales—tells you just how hooked I was. This may be an exaggeration because I am so in love with the book, but the content seemed a little Shakespearean.

About the cover: I LOVE the red and purple abstract cover. She who usually couldn’t care less about covers. It is so appealing, so exuberant, it’s like it matches the beauteous content hidden under it. I’ve never ever thought of a cover and the story being matchy matchy, but that’s what I think of here. It’s like I’m wearing this richly colored outfit, with cool textures, that makes me twitchy with glee. And then I dye my hair some complementary color and add exotic jewelry with other complementary colors and textures, and then I have this whole look of richness that makes me feel gooooood. I read this book on a Kindle, but I absolutely have to buy the book so that I can stare at the gorgeous cover (knowing that within lies matching beauty), and swoon to my heart’s content.

The sign of a good story is that it takes you away to another world and you want to stay there. Reality takes a back seat. Well, that’s what happened here. I can’t stop thinking about this book! It’s in a three-way tie for my favorite novel of the year. The fact that this is a debut and the writer is in her 20s just blows my mind.

The author didn't have to say Stay with Me because there was no question I was staying: I was glued to the page. It would be more accurate for me to be the one saying Stay with Me. Write another book please. Stay with Me.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,340 followers
August 27, 2017
I'm never quite sure what has me rate a book 5 stars. I rarely do so. I think I save my 5 stars for books that have me fully intellectually and emotionally engaged. Stay With Me was that kind of reading experience. Set in Nigeria between the mid 1980s and 2008, Stay With Me is about the tortuous relationship between Yejide and Akin, and their heartbreaking road to parenthood. I don't want to say too much about the story because it's best to experience its emotional punch as it unfolds but here are some of the things I loved about Stay With Me:

-I loved the portrayal of Yejide. No one will agree with all of her decisions but Adebayo has created a character that felt so real. The consequences of losing her mother at birth are perfectly woven into this angry, aching and intelligent character.
-There is a lot of love in this book, but it is love between humans. So it comes at a price including bad decisions made out of love, silence where speaking is needed and avoidance because of the fear of loss.
-I loved the portrayal of contemporary Nigeria. As someone who knows relatively little about Nigeria, this book gave me a strong sense of the interplay of traditional culture, modernity and political unrest. Yejide and Akin are university educated and relatively well to do. Yejide runs her own hair salon and Akin works for a bank. Yet they both come from traditional polygamous families, and there is much pressure on Akin to take on a second wife -- something Yejide vehemently opposes.
-Although Stay With Me is relatively short, a lot happens in this story and much of it is unexpected. This is not a story with a typical narrative arc but it is carefully and beautifully constructed.
-Adebayo treads intelligently on morally charged territory.
-And the ending -- yikes -- had me weepy.

I loved it. I highly recommend it. Although I suspect that many will struggle with many of Yejide and Akin's choices and actions. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,281 followers
May 17, 2017
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Yejide and her husband Akin have been in love since they met at university. Despite pressure from family members and a slew of medical procedures, Yejide has yet to become pregnant after four years of marriage. One day, her in-laws arrive with a beautiful young woman they propose Akin take as a second wife so that he may have children. Yejide knows it's imperative that she get pregnant or she'll have to share her husband with a woman she despises, but the drastic measures and radical risks she's willing to take in order to conceive may prove too high a cost.

Stay With Me opens by dropping readers right at the doorstep of the central drama, effectively hooking readers and establishing Yejide as a sympathetic character. The stakes are high for Yejide, and the rawness of her emotional state feels tangible. Her pain is so eloquently expressed that it's easy to suffer the sting of betrayal, the ravages of heartbreak, and the corrosive burn of jealousy alongside her.

Rage closed its flaming hands around my heart. There was a pounding in my head, right between my eyes.

Yejide genuinely loves her husband, and her character is made more interesting for her conflicted attitude toward Akin as she balances long-standing adoration and trust against feelings of hurt and treachery.

'Hold it. Just hold it there. Please don't sweetie me again this morning.' But I did want him to call me sweetie again, only me and no one else. I wanted him to reach across the table, hold my hand and tell me we would be all right.

The story alternates perspectives between Yejide and Akin, whose interest in having a child parallels his wife's, and whose willingness to take drastic measures is no less severe.

Yejide would have a child and we would be happy forever. The cost didn't matter. It didn't matter how many rivers we had to cross. At the end of it all was this stretch of happiness that was supposed to begin only after we had children and not a minute before.

A keen awareness of plot placing is evident throughout the book. The author distributes shocking surprises at perfectly placed intervals to hold the interest of her readers. Each horrifying revelation hits hard and keeps the pages turning.

Prevalent yet subtle are central themes of motherhood and fertility.

The words, mother is gold, mother is treasured gold that cannot be bought with money, resonated with me more than any homily I'd ever heard. I knew by then that my mother could not be replaced with money, by a stepmother, or anyone else and I was sure I would never call any woman Moomi.

Wisdom abounds and doesn't shy away from uncomfortable truths.

The reasons why we do the things we do will not always be the ones others will remember. Sometimes I think we have children because we want to leave behind someone who can explain who we were to the world.

It's the truth, stretched, but still true. Besides, what will be left of love without truth stretched beyond its limits, without those better versions of ourselves that we present as the only ones that exist?

But the biggest lies are often the ones we tell ourselves.

Set amidst the unstable political climate of Nigeria in the eighties, Stay With Me is an emotionally stirring examination of the desperate actions some are willing to take when biology refuses to align with societal and personal expectations.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews33 followers
July 24, 2017
It's not easy being a modern woman in Nigeria. Old customs and family traditions are nothing but a 'pain-in-the ass' for Yejide and her husband Akin. You'd think having a baby was the most important thing in the frickin world! Says who??? Really... says WHO?

I'm aware of the window I was are looking into: a different culture with expectations & obligations in this page turning well written- gut wrenching story...but I laughed and laughed: many times. I found the dialogue hilarious-- THESE PEOPLE ARE NUTS ... I was crackin up!!.....having a wild fun time!!!!
Shame on me for laughing? I don't know - I LIKED THIS BOOK - I ENJOYED BREATHING some humor into the bleakness. I'd like to believe it might have been the author's intention for me to laugh, too. Such a wonderful sense of humor she has - it shows up in her writing.
Plenty of secrets, betrayal, jealousy, grief, anger, .... and love .....
PLUS.......my funny bone was highly stimulated.

Awesome debut novel!
Thank You Netgalley- Knopf Doubleday Publishing- and the 'star' of this book:
Ayobami Adebayo

Profile Image for Hannah.
592 reviews1,052 followers
March 13, 2017
Wow, this was absolutely intense. The whole book is intensely, compulsively readable and I sped through it in two sittings (and it only took two sittings because I had to sleep inbetween).

Ayobami Adebayo tells the story of a marriage, its desintegration, and the hurt happening along the way. We first meet Yejide at a time when she hasn't seen her husband in 14 years and is now preparing to return for his father's funeral, then the story shifts back to the past where the couple is desperately trying to have a child. Both their families blame Yejide, going even so far as to arrange a second wife for her husband, Akin. This addition of a second wife is the starting point of a grueling few years and of a spiral of hurt and viciousness and painful mistakes.

What impressed me the most about this debut novel is the way Ayobami Adebayo created characters who are unpleasant and flawed and intensely aggrevating but still managed to make me feel and root for them. Yejide's intense wish for children and everything she goes through to have them was absolutely heartbreaking - and everybody's reaction to her 'failure' made my blood boil. While she herself is not without serious flaws her reactions and even her stupid decisions made sense considering the immense pressure she is under, for pretty much the whole book.

This is not a hopeful book; I feel the need to point that out. The situation the couple find themselves in is so unbelievably unpleasant that it is a wonder that the Yejide we meet in the beginning to able to function at all.

This tightly woven book is an impressive debut novel - not because of any fancy language but just based on the strength of the characters created. I am absolutely thrilled to see it on the Bailey's prize longlist and I am looking forward to reading Ayobami Adebayo's next book.

I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Canongate Books in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,286 reviews2,204 followers
August 5, 2017

Desperate to have a child, hopefully a son, a young Nigerian couple struggle to meet the expectations of family and society. The story reflects a culture in which a woman's role is seen as bearing a child for her husband in a society where multiple wives are acceptable, especially if the first wife has not had a child. A society where a mechanic or a doctor would prefer to speak to the husband rather than the wife, where family members have a good deal of influence in this couple's relationship. The struggle is compounded by the lengths to which Akin and Yejide go to and the desperation is reflected in some things that they do that made me not like either of them very much.

There were some twists that I wasn't expecting - maybe too many. I kept wondering what else can happen. Too many things - curves in the plot line , too many secrets. Maybe meant to depict the desperation, but for me they diluted some of broader themes that I at first thought were the substance of the book. It definitely is a learning experience shedding light on the volatile political situation of the times , the culture, the place of women, the importance of a son, of children in this society. While I loved the ending, overall the book is 3 stars for me. A good effort for a debut novel and I will watch for what Adebayo does in the future.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Knopf Doubleday through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Candi.
614 reviews4,644 followers
February 24, 2018
"Saanu mi, malo, Omo mi, joo nitori Olorun. Saanu mi. Duro timi. Have mercy on me, don’t go, please. Stay with me."

This is a breathtaking and tragic book about marriage, family, and the lengths one will go to bring a child into this world. It’s a story of another culture – the beliefs, traditions and superstitions. The political unrest and the resulting violence of the country are always in the background, never dominating the story but always exerting its influence and effects on the lives of the characters. It’s a gripping narrative that kept my attention from start to finish, and although it may sound like a cliché, Stay with Me is an impressive debut novel!

Yejide and Akin are a young Nigerian couple with hopes and dreams not unlike many other newlyweds. They both come from families that are grounded in many of the older traditions, including that of polygamy. However, Yejide and Akin are university-educated and have more of a contemporary view of the marriage bond, one to be shared between just two people. Yejide has always felt lonely, her mother having died during childbirth and her father’s other wives essentially scorning her. She yearns for a child, someone she can call her own and to whom she can give all the love which she herself found lacking in her own childhood; someone who will remember her once she has departed from life. "Sometimes I think we have children because we want to leave behind someone who can explain who we were to the world when we are gone…" Akin will do anything to make Yejide happy. But after four years, the pair have been unable to conceive a child. Desperation eventually springs forth, meddling families intervene, and a marriage is sorely tested. Lies are told, secrets are closely guarded, jealousy rears its ugly head, and lives are forever changed.

I think Adebayo does an excellent job of sketching the two main characters. The narrative alternates back and forth between Yejide and Akin’s point of view, allowing us to understand each as individuals, but without revealing all their deepest secrets to us right away. It made for some surprising moments in the book which I quite liked. Yejide was a particularly well-drawn, complex woman – I couldn’t always abide all of her actions, yet I couldn’t help feeling wholly sympathetic towards her. Akin secured less of my understanding, and a bit more of my impatience. "Besides, what would be left of love without truth stretched beyond its limits, without those better versions of ourselves that we present as the only ones that exist?" Still, Adebayo managed to make me care for him as well, despite his flawed rationalizations.

Stay with Me is a page-turning, stirring novel that tugged at my heart and managed to elicit a variety of emotions. Weaving a wonderful story with realistic characters, this author is definitely one to watch. The ending was astonishing!

"… the biggest lies are often the ones we tell ourselves."
Profile Image for PorshaJo.
453 reviews659 followers
September 28, 2017
Rating 4.5

What a beautiful, tragic story. Utterly heartbreaking. There was a line in the book that summed it up perfectly....."The mess of life and love that only shows up as you go along".

Yejide and Akin are a married couple who must have a child. Yes, must. You see, Yejide will only become a woman once she has a child, giving her husband a child, hopefully a boy. The story takes place in Nigeria and gives you a look at a different culture and its customs. Yejide is so desperate to have a child that she goes up a mountain with a white goat, consults a fertility 'man' (witch doctor, guru, I dunno), and comes back believing she is pregnant. The goal of having a child almost drives her mad. Because she can't give Akin a child, he must take another wife. The story is told back and forth in time, going between Yejide and Akin. It's amazing what these people go through to have a child and stop at nothing. And you follow the mess of life and love they create. When the story starts, you meet Yejide, who has not seen her husband in some time and is returning for her father inlaws funeral. Its amazing she can function after all that she has gone through.

The story is very sad but it also had some comedic relief at times in the form of how all these people speak to one another. I laughed out loud a few times. For example, Yejide owns and runs a hair salon and one day she cuts off her hair, basically hacking it off. When she returns home, her husband asks her what happened to her hair. She shouts 'A bear ate it off my head on the way home!!! What do you *think* happened to my hair!!!'. Sometimes I think they are all a bit insane.

I listened to this one and the narrator did a fabulous job. She has a heavy accent so this one required me to focus. She did an amazing job flipping between the voices of Yejide and Akin and all the other characters in this story. I can't say this one is for everyone, it's just so tragic. But I really liked this story and can't understand why it has not received more acclaim. I look forward to see what Ayobami Adebayo, the author, gives us next as she is a gifted story-teller.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,738 reviews14.1k followers
August 10, 2017
Different country, different cultural and societal expectations. Nigeria n the eighties and ninties, a young couple, Yejede and Akin meet at University, fall in love and marry. For Akin having a son meant he was a man, for Yejede, having a child meant fulfilling the role she was expected to fulfil. In Nigeria, it was also expected for a man to take more than one wife, especially if the wife was unable to provide a child, but Akin had promised Yejede he would never do this. Six years no child, increasing pressure from family, Yejede tries everything, charms, baths everything her mother in law suggests. Nothing works, and promises are broken, finally fueled by desperation and need, an urgent step is taken. Success, but by no means happiness.

This is a very heartfelt story, a story of almost unbearable grief. A grief that is so pervasive even small seeds of hope cannot penetrate. Nigeria falling apart around them, uprisings, attempted coups, an illigal election, but even that cannot compare to the sadness within the family.

Written in so earnest a voice, so very real, I found myself consumed by this story. A very meaningful one. There were things happening behind the scenes that we are not privy to until later in the story. The book contained many small surprises, and does end with a measure of hope and happiness. This author is a new writer and one that is very talented. Can't wait to see what she does next.

ARC from edelweiss and publisher.
Profile Image for Taryn.
325 reviews299 followers
September 25, 2017
There are things even love can’t do. Before I got married, I believed love could do anything. ... 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. (Akin)

After four years of marriage, Yejide and Akin still haven’t had a child. Akin’s family pressures him to take on a second wife who can provide him with descendants. Polygamy was never part of their plan, so Yejide is livid when a second wife appears at her doorstep. She becomes desperate to get pregnant in order to protect her marriage. Stay with Me is an emotional story about the slow disintegration of a relationship and the damage that societal expectations can inflict.

It was the lie I’d believed in the beginning. Yejide would have a child and we would be happy forever. The cost didn’t matter. It didn’t matter how many rivers we had to cross. At the end of it all was this stretch of happiness that was supposed to begin only after we had children and not a minute before. (Akin)

This is such an emotional read! It made my stomach feel tied up in knots. My heart hurt so much for these characters because of the burdens they were forced to face. Part of me is so thrilled to find a talented new author to follow, but the other part of me is angry that she put her characters through so much pain! When we first meet Yejide, it's 2008 and she's still married to Akin. However, it seems that they've not communicated over the last fifteen years. She has just received an invitation to be Akin's guest at his father's funeral. The chapters alternate between Akin and Yejide as they reveal the story of their relationship, from love at first sight to the challenges that followed. The story of their relationship coincides with the tumultuous presidency of Ibrahim Babangida (1985-1993). Through the many twists and turns in this story, Yejide and Akin suffer a never-ending series of setbacks. Sometimes it felt like too much, but I think that feeling is intensified by the way the reveals are distributed. Each tragedy results from the one before it, but the answers aren't revealed linearly.

The reasons why we do the things we do will not always be the ones that others will remember. Sometimes I think we have children because we want to leave behind someone who can explain who we were to the world when we are gone. (Yejide)

Yejide has always been alone in the world. Her mother died during her birth and her father likes to remind her of her part in her mother's death. Her father's other wives ostracize her. Yejide's mother is described as a woman without lineage, which makes them question Yejide's humanity: "when there was no identifiable lineage for a child, that child could be descended from anything—even dogs, witches or strange tribes with bad blood." When she falls in love with Akin, she finally has a person that is hers and an opportunity to create a family for herself. She finally matters to someone! Everything falls apart when Akin agrees to take on a second wife and she gets crowded out of her own life. Now she must have a child. It will secure her place in the marriage and give her something that is really hers: "A man can have many wives or concubines; a child can have only one mother."

It’s the truth—stretched, but still true. Besides, what would be left of love without truth stretched beyond its limits, without those better versions of ourselves that we present as the only ones that exist? (Akin)

There's intense love between Akin and Yejide, but they also share have a fear of being alone. There are issues in their relationship from the beginning. Akin is constantly making compromises without consulting his wife. Yejide tries her best to be a compliant wife, despite the endless amount of heartache thrown her way. The gulf between them is widened further because of societal expectations and the desperation to meet those ideals. Shame is a powerful emotion. The shame of not being "woman enough" or "man enough" can drive people to great lengths to hide their supposed deficiencies. Yejide has little support. As a woman, she must endure the community's blame for anything that's lacking in her marriage. She also receives indifferent reactions to her very valid emotions, which cause her lose grip on reality and retreat further within herself.

“This is a transition. A transition is a process. It is not a one-off event. There is no need for us to be cynical. There have been setbacks, but I think they are quite understandable. ... It is a gradual transition, step by step, my dear. That is the only way to ensure lasting change.”

The drama occurs on both a personal and political scale. During the same time period as Yejide and Akin's marital strife, Nigeria is undergoing major turmoil. After the 1985 coup, there’s a series of escalating conflicts where nothing really changes except a slow weakening of the country's stability. The political battles and the characters' reactions to the events mirror what’s going on in the marriage. Yejide describes family members knocking at her door as soldiers prepared for war because she knows they are going to inflict damage on her marriage. The introduction of the second wife occurs around the same time as Babangida's successful coup. As Babangida assumes power, Yejide reflects that "Nigeria was still in the honeymoon phase of her relationship with Babangida, and like most new brides she wasn’t asking probing questions, yet.” The violence escalates, but no one is able to see how bad it’s gotten because they are too close to the situation. Even with deteriorating conditions, Yejide hopes that Babangida will maintain power "because the status quo was the devil we knew." When someone questions the government's commitment to change, Akin dismisses the idea that they would invest so many resources on something only to abandon their plans.

"She has tried hard-o, even a blind person can see how hard she has tried. But only a few people can win in a fight against their destiny. I have lived long enough to know that."

Akin thought that as long as he and Yejide had a child they would find true happiness, no matter what had to be sacrificed to achieve that goal. But how many lies and secrets can a marriage endure? Lies pile on top of even more lies until it becomes too much for anyone to bear. Yejide marvels at how one doesn't need to be lied to by another person in order to be deceived, because "the biggest lies are often the ones we tell ourselves." It's easy to blind ourselves to reality and fool ourselves into seeing what we want to see. As Yejide says, "sometimes faith is easier than doubt." Love is complicated. Sometimes problems are too big to overcome and love just isn't enough. Did Akin and Yejide ever have a chance at happiness or were they doomed from the beginning? Did the constant pressure to measure up to society's ideals make honesty and open communication not seem like a valid option and prevent this couple from forging their own path? I thought this story was going to focus on the dynamics of a polygamous marriage, but it was so much more than that. Stay with Me is an amazing debut from a talented new author!

I received this book for free from Netgalley and Knopf Publishing Group. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It's available now!
Profile Image for Linda.
1,230 reviews1,279 followers
December 20, 2017
"You can never cover the truth. Just as nobody can cover the sun's rays with his hands, you can never cover the truth."

Believe me, this book will stay with you like a stampede of wild horses in your mind days after you've read the final pages. Yes, days......

The budding marriage of Yejide and Akin is like a safe dwelling place against the world at large. Nigeria serves up a tray of constant threatening political coups, family and cultural demands, and the lingering emotions of not being "complete."

After four years of this wedded union, Yejide has not conceived a child. It haunts her every moment of every day. Even after multiple consultations with fertility doctors, there is no pregnancy. Yejide doesn't have the extended hand of a mother's comforting love. Her parents have died and she is surrounded with the contempt of her father's multiple wives. Polygamy is a weighty presence for those who do not embrace it.

Ayobami Adebayo creates a very complicated and multi-dimensional character in Yejide. Yejide's determination even takes her on a treacherous journey to a mountain top begging for a child. While being respectful of her husband, Yejide still struggles with a flaring temper and an all-consuming passion to bear a child. It continues to gnaw at her and grips her into a vise of self-imprisonment.

Akin's mother breathes down Yejide's back with a dragon's breath. A knock at the door reveals the family's resolvement of the problem. There stands a petite young woman with head bowed. She has been groomed to be Akin's second wife in order to bear him a child. No words can adequately describe the burning anguish inside Yejide's heart.

At the core of this book is the driving force of gifting one's love with the greatest gift of all.....the living, breathing essence of your own flesh and blood in the form of an innocent child. But Adebayo does not weave a simple tale here. It is relentless in its escalation of emotions, its laid-bare decisions, and the knotting of its complications. A bell that you cannot unring.

Among the barbs of unspeakable disappointments, Adebayo flavors this brew with the sounds, the cuisine, and the customs of Nigeria. It becomes a vivid and lasting journey that reminds us of the undying flame of the human spirit close at hand or thousands of miles in the distance. A very memorable read, indeed.
Profile Image for Emma.
976 reviews977 followers
December 31, 2016
Despite addressing the intimate themes of family, sex, marriage, love, and conception, this book felt light, without the depth necessary to make it truly affecting. Yejide and Akin have their own intertwining chapters to tell the story of their marriage, but while I felt each subsequent moment spent with her deepened my idea of her character and motivation, even some rather shocking revelations during his chapters did not seem to break the surface of his personality. Though I felt some pity for the losses they both suffered, it was momentary, and by the final denouement, I had little or no connection to what I assume was supposed to be an emotional punch.

The book was well written, but lacked the something extra it needed to be a great story.

ARC via Netgalley.
Profile Image for Karen.
574 reviews1,120 followers
November 20, 2018
Heartbreaking story of a young and educated married couple in Nigeria who want a family very badly but things are just not moving along for them.
This story follows them from the mid 1980’s to 2008 with the husband and wife both narrating their parts of the journey.
What a journey!!! What a cast of characters! INTENSE!
Profile Image for Rosh.
55 reviews232 followers
November 15, 2017
This book sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of Nigerian society and its culture. A devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and all consuming bonds of motherhood. A book that tells us the desperate attempts we seek to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.

It's not a perfect novel but it's one I'm not hesitating to recommend.
Profile Image for Fran.
640 reviews587 followers
August 3, 2017
Was love enough to help Yejide and Akin weather the storms of life? Perhaps, if they were not subjected to family and societal pressures in Ilesa, Nigeria. Loving couple Yejide and Akin believed in their love, however, the cloud of childlessness weighed heavily on their shoulders after four years of marriage. Akin's mother Moomi, reminded him that as first son, he had the responsibility to leave a child behind upon his death. Moomi told Yejide that if she could not produce a child, she should not be called a woman. Societal standards like these caused both Yejide and Akin to implement strategies to produce the "necessary" child.

Yejide is a motherless child. Her mother died in childbirth giving her life. Her father had four current wives, but none were mothers to her, neglecting her and favoring their own children. Yejide wanted to mother a child that was totally hers. Akin had purchased a hair salon for her where she did hair weaving and hair plaiting. Despite loving her job, she would have given it up in a heartbeat. She was willing to travel to the Mountain of Jaw-Dropping Miracles, participate in fasting and rituals while Prophet Josiah and the faithful chanted and promised a successful pregnancy.

Moomi, Akin's mother decided that since Yejide could not have children, a second wife would be chosen for Akin. Akin installed new wife Funmi in her own apartment with plans to visit her on weekends. When Yejide was informed that a second marriage had taken place, she called her husband "a bloody bastard". Her rebellion took the form of cooking "old" beans when family members came to visit. Akin drove them home and later asked Yejide, "What did you feed them? I had to park by a bush....." on the way home.

Yejide, having no mother, no siblings, felt that Akin would leave her and she would be all alone in the world despite Akin's assurances of love. She needed to have a child before Funmi did to make sure Akin stayed with her.

Akin had secrets of his own. People spending time with him and discussing their business and personal thoughts never realized that he didn't show his hand. He kept to himself. Akin took many business trips to Lagos. Akin's brother, Moomi's "favorite son" Dotun lived there. When Dotun lost his job, he crashed at Akin and Yejide's dwelling in Ilesa. Akin paid Dotun's debts and allowed Dotun to stay until he could get back on his feet.

"Stay with Me" by Ayobami Adebayo was an excellent tome both heartfelt and harrowing. The choices made by the principal characters were drastic and mind-boggling with only occasional silver linings. A page turner and a must read.

Thank you Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Stay with Me".

Profile Image for emma.
1,823 reviews48.6k followers
September 27, 2021
This is called a "celebrated and unforgettable first novel" in the blurb, but I think I will probably forget it.

To be fair, I forget a lot of stuff, and when you read a few hundred books a year there's no way all of them are getting filed under To Remember, but still.

This felt very, very similar to His Only Wife (or I guess vice versa, since this came first, but I read it second and I'm the center of the universe, so).

Not only in that it centers on a woman attempting to get a rich man to love her (or to remain in love with her) as she struggles to get pregnant (or to remain pregnant), but in that I expected kind of literary fiction-y trials and tribulations and instead got constant drama on the level of a soap opera.

Neither were really for me, and yet I didn't hate either.

Three stars for both?

Bottom line: Reading these two books in the same month was a huge miscalculation!


this was like a soap opera.

tbd whether that's a good or bad thing.

review to come / 3 or 3.5 or who knows

tbr review

a "celebrated and unforgettable first novel"? you don't know what i can forget. i can forget a lot
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
615 reviews19.5k followers
February 7, 2018
This is a complex and heartbreaking novel.

Yejide and Akin have been married for four years but have been unable to have children. Akin's family is pressuring him to have a son (or daughter but preferably a son, two or three sons would be ideal) and it has come to the point that he has taken a second wife in order to conceive. I don't want to say more than what is described in the book cover, but know that there is much more than the simple description I just gave.

The novel is very complex and takes place in Nigeria. The story is told from the alternating points of view of Yejide and Akin. The characters are well drawn and there are many layers to each of them.

This book was a wonderful journey for me, it was emotionally draining but also satisfying and eloquently written. The author is amazing and I plan to read her next book.

Overall, I enjoyed it and highly recommend it to all readers.

Profile Image for Sawsan.
1,002 reviews
May 17, 2020
في البداية تبدو الرواية كقصة واقعية ومرئية على اختلاف البلدان والثقافات
حكاية زوجين .. الحب والزواج .. ثم انتظار الخطوة التالية .. الإنجاب
قد يطول الانتظار وتتعثر المحاولات وبالتدريج تفرض الثقافة المجتمعية قوانينها
ببساطة ودقة تصف الكاتبة التوق للأمومة وافتقاد السند وحصار الأهل
وتعرض الأحوال والتغيرات النفسية والفكرية للزوجة بأثر الضغوط
ثم يتحول السرد إلى مسار مختلف ليكشف حقيقة ما يدور بين الشخصيات من أكاذيب وخداع وخيانة
وبالوصول لحلم الأمومة تتوالى الخسارات والأحزان والفقد
أسلوب سلس للكاتبة النيجيرية أيوبامي أديبايو برغم الأحداث المزعجة
تمر خلاله على الأحداث السياسة في نيجيريا والحياة الاجتماعية
وخاصة الطقوس العائلية, العادات والتقاليد والموروثات الشعبية

Profile Image for Barbara.
1,347 reviews4,863 followers
January 23, 2022

"Stay With Me", Ayobami Adebayo's debut novel, was shortlisted for the 'Women's Prize for Fiction' - one of Britain's most prestigious literary awards. The honor is well-deserved.


All cultures expect the younger generation to have children, a biological imperative to ensure that the group doesn't die out. In some societies the 'elders' just pester their kids.....I wanna be a grandma already! In other groups, the pressure to reproduce is intense and relentless, and childless couples are berated and shamed. That's the case for the protagonists in this story - Akin Ajayi and his wife Yejide - a Yoruba couple in Nigeria.

Akin and Yejide are well-educated, middle-class residents of Ilesa, a city in the southwest part of the country. Akin is an accountant and Yejide owns a beauty salon, and the couple have a nice home and a close, loving relationship. The Yoruba people are polygamous, but Yejide is Akin's only wife - a pre-condition for her agreeing to marry him.

Unfortunately the Ajayis are childless after four years of marriage, and their relatives - especially Yejide's mother-in-law - are constantly begging and manipulating Akin to take another wife.....one who will produce kids. Yejide is 'blamed' for the couple's barrenness, though she's been to doctors who said she was fine. Akin also reports that physicians found him sound. Under scrutiny from her entire community, Yejide has tried everything to conceive prayers, herbs, physicians, rituals, pilgrimages, and so on - to no avail.

Fertility Ritual

One day Akin's mother shows up at her oldest son's home with a pretty young woman named Funmi, and introduces her to Yejide as Akin's second wife. It seems that Akin married Funmi in secret, after years of harassment by his mother. Yejide is shocked. (What a rotter that Akin is!)

Feeling devastated, Yejide decides she MUST get pregnant to preserve her place in the family. As a last resort, Yejide hauls a goat up the 'Mountain of Jaw-Dropping Miracles' where 'Prophet Josiah' leads her through an exotic ritual that includes suckling the goat. Yejide is convinced a miracle HAS occurred and that she's now pregnant.

Akin doubts his wife, but Yejide proceeds to take antenatal classes and to prepare a room for the baby. Sonograms at various doctors' offices show no baby, but Yejide insists they're all mistaken. Long story short.....no baby is born.

Through all this, Funmi - who's been installed in her own apartment - is trying to insinuate herself into the Ajayi home, so she can assume the role of a 'true wife.' This, of course, just exacerbates Yejide's frustration and anger.

For his part, Akin wants Yejide to be happy, and would do almost anything to ensure her fulfillment. This leads to the subsequent events in the novel - some happy, some sad, some tragic.

The story is narrated by Akin and Yejide in alternating sections, and we hear how they met, fell in love at first sight, and wed soon afterwards. We also learn that Yejide's mother died giving birth to her, and that her father's other wives were dismissive, cold, insulting, and hurtful. Thus, young Yejide grew up lonely and isolated, and she desperately wants a 'real family' now. Perhaps because of this, Yejide shuts her eyes to obvious deceptions and lies. Yejide's level of denial (and naiveté ?) seems COMPLETELY unbelievable (to me), but may be related to her yearning for a child and her cultural roots.

The story spans several decades, from the 1980s through 2008, during which Nigeria was undergoing repeated political upheavals and changes. For the most part, the characters seem to take this in stride.....just another day in the home country. At one point, however, a violent incident has an indirect (but profound) effect on the Ajayis lives.

Other important characters in the novel include: Dotun - Akin's younger brother, a married philanderer who loves and respects his sibling; and Iya Bolu - a fellow salon owner who becomes Yejide's best friend.

There are also appearances by Yejide's father and father-in-law; several stepmothers; and even a bunch of robbers - who send notices of their upcoming burglaries (can you believe this??).

In the course of the story, the author provides peeks at the Yoruba culture, including their culinary tastes (pounded yams are a favorite); celebrations (newborns garner joyous naming ceremonies); funerals (elaborate and expensive); and other traditions - including some folktales. This is fascinating and enlightening.

Pounded yams

Baby naming ceremony


I very much liked this well-written and engaging book. For me, Yejide is an admirable character, strong-willed and resilient. As for Akin... I didn't like him much, but I do understand the cultural and familial pressures put on him. Stories centered around paternalistic cultures - which have dismissive and condescending attitudes to women - always raise my blood pressure. But I know the world isn't going to change just because I want it to. LOL

I'd highly recommend "Stay With Me" to fans of literary novels.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for Nicole.
732 reviews1,838 followers
June 3, 2021
So I enjoyed this book for the most part but I wasn’t a fan of the things leading up to the ending. It’s not a bad. I’m glad I decided to read it especially since I haven’t read many books based in Africa so that was nice.

Family dramas can be a hit or miss for me. They can either overly done, boring, and simply too dramatic to my taste or they can be gripping and well, addicting sometimes like a drama can be. This book falls in the middle. While not bad, I also wasn't that intrigued by it.

A particular part that interest was writing about polygamy since it can be found in my country too. Especially from the pov of a woman who is completely against. While I admired Yejide at first, her decisions especially towards the end didn't make sense to me. Another book that I couldn't get attached to its characters.

Adébáyọ̀ managed to create a solid story nonetheless in less than 300 pages and honestly, it didn't need to be longer anyway. The short length of this book definitely helped me appreciate it more.

The narration was fantastic honestly, I really liked it. It certainly reflected the African setting of the book! Well done.

I'm always looking for books written in different areas of the world but they're very difficult to come by. Either because of their lack of exposure or simply because they're not available in an English audiobook format (I'm almost never reading fiction anymore). I love discovering more cultures through books and I'm honestly tired of reading books set in the same countries.
Profile Image for Jean Menzies.
Author 13 books11.1k followers
June 13, 2017
Review originally posted on my blog here: https://morejeansthoughts.wordpress.c...

This book was first put on my radar when it was longlisted for The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction this year (2017). And let me tell you, I will be forever grateful it did. For me, the experience of reading this book demonstrates what is so magical about the Women’s Prize for Fiction, as without it I may never have picked Stay With Me up. Which would, I assure you, have been a great loss for me. The book itself takes place in 1980s Nigeria and predominantly follows Yejidi, whose husband Akin, in the very first few pages of the book, takes a second wife without informing Yejidi that he is about to do so. Although he is not alone in their circle of family and friends to marry multiple women he did so against the express wishes of his first wife. The reason that Yejidi’s life is suddenly turned upside down is due to her inability thus far in their marriage to conceive a child and the pressure that has incurred from Akin’s family to find a wife who can. From that point on nothing unfolds as you might predict.

With every twist and turn in this book, I fell more in love with it. It never settled into a predictable narrative that allowed by interest to wane. Perhaps it is just me, although I don’t think so, but I never guessed exactly what was coming and each time I felt the book was heading in a certain direction it took me by surprise, again and again. Not only is it pleasant to never know what is coming, the shape that the plot took added to my overall investment in the character’s stories. This sense of curiosity and sometimes anxiety kept their lives real for me in the way that you can never truly predict the path your own life will follow.

I could not have felt as invested in this story, however, if it had not been for the characters themselves. Each felt well rounded and complex, compassionate and underhanded actions alike. Yejidi, in particular, felt so real to me and although I have never and will never experience many of the things she did I could empathize with the struggles she faced. One of the stifling attitudes that society, seemingly universally, directs towards women, including Yejidi, is the interweaving of female identity with motherhood. that society, seemingly universally, Adebayo, in part, uses moments in Stay With Me to explore this expectation of women, who may very well wish to be mothers but still experience the negative effect this pressure can have upon them.

Stay With Me manages to simultaneously explore individual identity, relationships, family and the experience of cultural and societal expectations of different generations and people; it does this all within 296 pages. That in itself may be the most astonishing thing of all.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
November 28, 2017
Not to be flip, but this is a lot of heartache caused by one . I’d feel more compassion towards Akin and his plight if his lies weren’t so brazen and harmful.
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,056 reviews1,863 followers
December 5, 2018

He removed his jacket, folded it and laid it on the bed.

Then the fires of hell overflowed their banks and spilled into our bedroom.

Hold up, wait a minute. What the FUCK was this book. It was one of the most fucked-up books. It started out fucked-up and then just progressively got more and more and more fucked-up as it went along. When you thought things couldn't POSSIBLY get any more fucked-up, then Adébáyọ̀ just slams you with more.

So dark. So twisted.

So FUCKING GOOD. OMG. This book is an absolute gem.

If you like Gillian Flynn, if you saw WIDOWS and loved it - this is the book for you.

Do you enjoy a good, slow mind-fuck? Then this book is for you.

First I was leery about this book. I wasn't sure it was going to be any good. It's highly praised. It's an award winner. This makes me distrustful of a book. Often times it doesn't even begin to merit the praises lavished on it.

Ooooh, not this time. Fuck. Adébáyọ̀ just writes the shit out of this book. I read most of it with my jaw dropped, my mouth open, incredulously turning pages as fast as I could read them. I was muttering "OMG OMG" every few pages, especially in the last half. People around me thought I was nuts. I got some strange looks.

I'm afraid of saying too much, because it's very easy to get spoiled on this book. WHATEVER YOU DO, don't flip ahead to read ahead. Just read it cover to cover. If it seems lame at the beginning or not your style, try hard to make it to 50%. If it doesn't have your complete enraptured attention by then, oh well. But if you enjoy a dark, twisted journey this is a real treat. And it's not so dark that you are going to feel like shit when you come to the last page. I actually think this is a plus, I don't like closing a book and feeling like shit. No matter how good the author's writing is. See my reviews of Joe Abercrombie for more information.

Brilliant writing. Not only is Adébáyọ̀ a great author in the terms of "her sentences and her paragraphs are amazing and transportive" and "she puts words together in a wonderful and emotional way" but her plotting here is actually technically stunning. ACTUALLY TECHNICALLY STUNNING. Once you reach the end of the book and you realize what she's done you will almost have an aneurysm. I can't talk about it without spoiling it, but it's psychologically masterful. The story she weaves here is like a complicated, beautiful tapestry that only an expert could create.

The pieces aren't really going to come together for you until the second half of the book. This isn't labeled as a mystery, but you could almost call it one. It isn't a thriller, but you could almost call it a thriller as well.

Hugely worth reading.

Good for getting a glimpse of Nigerian culture. Nigerian novelists are just killing it lately, IDK. If you want to be transported to Nigeria, this is it.

TL;DR It's not often I'm this full of praise for a book. I don't know if it is going to hold up to second-readings, part of the enjoyment is the shock and amazement of reading it for the first time. I will have to see how it fares when I re-read it. But on this initial reading, I have to say it blew my socks off. Wow. I'm not usually one to gush, but this is worth taking a look at. Others worth taking a look at: check out my "favorites" shelf.

If you like amazing writing, dark and twisted plots, and tear-your-heart-out endings - this is it!

"You can never cover the truth. Just as nobody can cover the sun's rays with his hands, you can never cover the truth." 202

Profile Image for Erin.
2,960 reviews485 followers
June 1, 2020
Incredibly compelling, Stay With Me kept me on top of that emotional rollercoaster with its cycle of heartbreaks and jaw dropping twists. The story of a Nigerian couple was a riveting way to finish my 2018 reading year.

Audiobook narrated by Adjoa Andoh 8hs 27 secs
Profile Image for Britany.
967 reviews417 followers
August 4, 2017
3.5 Stars
I'm still not really sure what to make of this book. I was talking about it to a friend at work and even trying to explain all the nuances and plot points made it sound wonky. What starts as a slow-building novel about Nigerian culture and a marriage desperate for a child- ends with so many twists I can't even keep them all straight.

Akin & Yejide marry and instantly get pressure from Akin's family to bear an heir. Yejide struggles to come to terms with polygamy, and even hikes a mountain holding a goat to try to induce fertility for the sake of their family. And then let the pivots begin...

I appreciate the writing and the messages conveyed by the author. At times the writing was clunky and dense, while others were concise and moved along. There were many moments that I wanted to keep reading, and then some parts when I lost interest. I think I just may need more time to think on this one...

Thank you to Netgalley & Knopf Doubleday Publishing for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Dianne.
559 reviews909 followers
October 22, 2017
I love books about other cultures and their beliefs and customs, even when those beliefs and customs are staggering in their cruelty and ignorance. This story takes place over 23 years in Nigeria, where Yejide and Akin have been married for several years without Yejide having produced a child. Yejide's and Akin's families blame Yejide and are all in favor of Akin taking a second wife, but Yejide and Akin love each other and want no part of polygamy. Eventually, they are forced to capitulate and Akin reluctantly takes Funmi as his second wife. Yejide begins to unravel under the pressure and Akin makes a desperate and selfish move to save Yejide and himself, with terrible consequences that reverberate into the future.

What a story! Such incredible sadness but a hopeful and uplifting ending. Great storytelling and writing, with characters that will linger in your memory.

Thank you to Netgalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for an ARC of this novel. My review, however, is based on the hardcover version.
Profile Image for Sarah Jessica Parker.
17 reviews409k followers
May 2, 2018
An ALA Book Club Central pick! This novel is a fast-paced and wonderfully powerful and heartbreaking tale of love, loyalty and betrayal. Happy reading!
Profile Image for La Tonya  Jordan.
289 reviews89 followers
March 27, 2018
This is a fabulous novel to start off the new year of 2018. This is a story of love with conditions I cannot fathom. When you live in a country where children are valued above all things and your lineage is connected only by your children and you are barren what do you do? Yejide Ajayi must seek the answer to this question in its purest form. The answers she finds are tear dropping.

Yejide and Akin Ajayi are highly educated Nigerian's who residue in Ilesa, which is in Nigeria. There is much political uprest in the country. Old traditions and mordern thinking are clashing minute by minute by what some refer to as change. Family dynmacis do not bend lightly. Akin is the oldest son and for him not to have a child to pass on his lineage is unthinkable. In this country, his mother, demands he takes a second wife if Yejide cannot produce. Left with no alternative Akin takes a second wife and Yejide starts a journey of unthinkable black magic as the last straw to keep her husband.

Akin's secert and what he does to assist Yejide in producting a child not only for her - but for him to love is beyond the pale. Love is a dangerous four letter word that comes with a price that is heart breaking. A must read for anyone who wants to know about how important are traditons and family values versus your sanity.

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 not longer love.

It was the whips that were not unleashed, the extra chores that were not assigned, the dinners that were not withheld that reminded me that none of them really cared.

Brother mi, let me try and explain things from my side of the story. The first time I had sex with your wife, it was to save your marriage.
Profile Image for Peter Boyle.
490 reviews596 followers
May 29, 2017
Can a childless couple ever be truly happy? That is the question at the heart of Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo’s wonderful debut. Of the four novels I've read from this year's Baileys Prize shortlist, it is by far the strongest.

The story is set mostly in 1980s Nigeria. Yejide and Akin are recently married, excited by the possibilities and prospects of their future. Yejide, a fiery and opinionated individual, runs a successful hair salon in the town of Ilesa. Akin is a steadier presence but he has his own dark secrets. Happy as their life is, Yejide's inability to conceive places a heavy strain on their marriage. In Nigeria, a childless woman is seen as tragedy. Under pressure from his family, especially his overbearing mother, Akin takes a second wife who is expected to finally bear him with offspring.

But the strong-willed and resourceful Yejide will not give up without a fight. In her desperation, she tries all kinds of schemes to become pregnant, resorting to superstition when modern medicine fails her. In one of the book's most memorable scenes, she leads a goat up the "Mountain of Jaw Dropping Miracles" and takes part in a crazy ceremony at the top of it. This results in a year-long phantom pregnancy - she convinces herself that she is with child and Akin worries for her mental health. And then at along last, Yejide does conceive. But it comes at a terrible cost.

Yejide's own mother died giving birth to her and she endured a difficult childhood. Her father was cold and distant: "I never got over the way he looked at me when he talked about her death, as if he was evaluating me, trying to decide if I was worth what he had lost." In Akin, she finally found somebody who "loved her from the very first moment." However, the pain and suffering they both go through takes huge toll on their relationship. It changes both of them immeasurably and they end up as very different people to those bright-eyed, optimistic newlyweds. But despite all of this hardship, Yejide comes to the conclusion that "love had immense power to unearth all that was good in us, refine us and reveal to us the better versions of ourselves."

Adebayo writes with a skill beyond her years - she examines marriage and motherhood with unerring grace and wisdom. The plot twists are deft and unpredictable, and the story is filled with colourful, memorable characters. Though there are moments of real comedy throughout (especially in Yejide's barbed wit), it's a tearful read for the most part. It would take a heart of stone to be unmoved by the breathless finale. Stay With Me is a powerful and deeply affecting book from an exciting new talent.
Profile Image for Raul.
283 reviews203 followers
December 6, 2018
What a wonderful, wonderful book. When Ms Ayobami came to Nairobi in February this year, it was a packed event at the Goethe-Institut Nairobi and ashamedly, I had not read her book yet but still listened to her and Ms Zukiswa and Ms Aleya as they discussed their books. They were all gracious enough to omit spoilers in their discussion so as to spare the unfortunate lot that was those like me that had not read it and did quite a good job, because nothing prepared me for the ride that was this book.

Told in the voices of Akin and Yejide, this is a story of a tumultuous marriage and the pains and joys that accompany parenthood. Ayobami has molded such living and complex characters in Akin, the husband and Yejide, the wife to make such a gripping and moving book. A fantastic story which demanded patience at some points and attention in its twists and turns but rewarding to the very end.
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