For many people with the dream of having a family, the plan is pretty simple; boy meets girl they fall in love and make beautiful babies. However, life had a very different plan for Yedije and Akin in the novel Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀. Like many couples, the two meet in university and fall in love. The relationship flourishes and they finally get married. Despite the cultural expectations of the Nigerian community at the time, Akin does not marry anyone else. The two agree from the onset that polygamy would not work for them.
Storms rock Yedije and Akin’s paradise when they have problems conceiving. Four years into their marriage they still have no children and not because they did not want any. The quest for fertility begins a cycle of disappointments, false hopes, endless recommendations, fertility doctors and above all strained relationships.
Stay With Me brilliantly takes the reader through the emotional and mental struggles that couples struggling with fertility issues encounter. Yedije and Akin soon realize that they are on different pages when it comes to the issue. It’s not long before the mother-in-law and other relatives try to intervene. They are clear that they need children to carry on their son’s lineage. Yedije takes it upon herself to make this come true in a bid to also save her marriage. Little does she know that this will set her on a dark path filled with pain and agony and with a dark secret looming in the shadows.
In her debut novel, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ uses emotional power to connect with her readers. With each character the author makes you see them through many lenses. You understand each of the characters and their choices. Some are terrible choices but the story is told in a way that you empathize. From the get-go, this book sends you on an emotional rollercoaster.
I read Stay With Me at a time when I wanted to explore more African authors and for sure it did not disappoint. I particularly loved that the language used is simple but powerful. Despite the setting being Nigerian, the book is not filled with the cultural dialect. That, however, does not take away the presence of culture in the story. As you read the story you can vividly see Nigerian people, their food, their beliefs, and the influence in the character’s actions.
The book is relatively short and you can finish it in or two sittings. Stay With Me definitely engages you both intellectually and emotionally. There might be a bit of shedding of tears if you are like me. If were to rate this book I would give it 4.5 in the very least. If you are looking for a good book to keep you company, this one is definitely worth your time. It addresses several themes affecting society such as fertility, marriage, religion, science and business effortlessly. The plots and twists are something that you never coming but they leave a lasting impression. You can get a copy of Stay With Me here.