Genre Literary Fiction.
Blurb “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, colors, 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.
Stay With Me is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.”
Hi guys, we are excited to have author, Abigail Anaba as our first guest reviewer on our blog. We tell you a bit more about Abigail at the end of her review.
How I got to know about the book
‘Stay With Me’ was shortlisted for the 2017 UK Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and so it got my attention and I included it in my reading list. Of course, a few of my friends had good things to say about it. It was also shortlisted for the Grill and Read Annual Reader’s Awards and it won in its category.
It is a sickle cell story. But, it is also a story about the travails women go through because they cannot have children. More important, it is a story of how far a man will go to cover the ‘shame’ of being infertile. It is also a story of a mother’s love and how even the most educated people still believe in traditional institutions and practices.
What I liked about the book
The novel was a page-turner. Ayobami was able to get the reader invested in the story. You just wanted to know what would happen next. Although the story started towards the end, there was still enough suspense to make you want to know what happened before and how it would all end.
On characterization, I liked that her characters were three dimensional. The main characters were flawed individuals yet they had redeeming qualities that made you tend to forget that they were supposed to be bad examples and maybe you were supposed to not like them. For example, I had a love-hate relationship with the character ‘Akin’.
In addition, I admired that Ayobami just went right to the story. She was not overly descriptive. It was a straightforward story you could follow it without losing the plot. Even when she introduced the political events of the day, they were not distracting.
Another thing I liked was that the title is a play on words. I saw “Stay with Me” as a double entendre, a plea for both husband and child to stay with the heroine.
The resolution of the story left me feeling unsatisfied. I was hoping to be surprised, but I was disappointed that I could predict the ending.
In addition, I believe more could have been done to show the characters journeys. There was an attempt at making the characters arc. Yejide went from being a loving mother at the birth of her first child to an ‘uncaring’ one and finally to acceptance of the cards life dealt her. I would have preferred a deeper arc where there was clearer transformation. For example, in what way was Akin transformed? What about his brother and mother?
This also relates to another part of the story that I wondered about. Why did Yejide return? What was so compelling to make her change her mind? To my mind, the inciting incidence was weak. But, perhaps you will have an answer for me after reading the story.
Similarly, I felt the time spent on retelling folktales could have been put to better use. (Maybe this suggests that I was not the audience for that part of the story)
It was a 7.6/10 for me. Overall, great read but like Simon Cowell, I was not exactly jumping out of my chair.
Page numbers 272.
Publisher Ouida Books.
Damage N3,000 on Ouida Books.
If you have read Stay With Me and can say why Yejide returned, do let Abigail know in the comments section.
About Abigail Anaba
Abigail Anaba is a research enthusiast who writes literary fiction peppered with historical and political realities and a dash of romance. Her journalistic writings and commentaries on politics, education and women’s issues have featured in several online publications including Ynaija, TheScoopNG and NewsWireNGR. She enjoys debates on history and gender and is always ready to challenge the status quo. Her debut novel, SectorIV explores love and loss during the Nigeria/Biafra war. Her second book, Switching Play tackles feminism and government’s negligence of sports heroes.
Abigail is a mother of three teenage boys.