Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò Review

6 Mar 2018

*Features press samples

Back in February, I introduced the Mumsnet Book Club, as throughout 2018 I am taking part in their monthly book club as one of the Mumsnet book bloggers, reading and review a new book each month. In February I shared a review of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a story which has stayed with me and I know it won't be long before I read it again. After devouring the February book, I was eager to get stuck into a new read.

A review of Stay With Me by Ayòbámi Adébáyò
The March book of the month is Stay With Me, a debut novel from female author Ayòbámi Adébáyò. Set in Nigeria in the 1980's where political and social tensions are high, Stay With Me follows the story of a young married couple struggling to conceive.

At first, it seems as though Yejide and her husband Akin are blissfully married and in tune with one another, but it soon becomes clear that not everyone is on the same page - particularly when it comes to Akin's mother. When Yejide and Akin struggle to conceive, Akin's family are insistent that he takes a second wife, who Yejide must accept and welcome. With Yejidge now desperate to have a child, she will do anything to conceive, in a story which twists jealously and betrayal, causing many years of despair and hopelessness for Yejidge and her husband.

Stay With Me is very different to the books I tend to gravitate towards and I did struggle to get into it at first; I felt really gripped with the first few chapters but found overall, part one was a slow burner. That all changes once you reach part two where the story takes on a new direction and carefully laid plans of deceit and betrayal start to unravel. You grow to love the character of Yejide, sometimes she is bold, brave and strong, but also desperately empty to be without a child, which Ayòbámi Adébáyò conveys beautifully in the way Yejide thinks and behaves.

Whilst I may not personally want to be in a polygamous relationship, I believe so long as everyone involved is happy and willing, people should do what works for them. In Stay With Me, the polygamous relationship is not willingly consensual by Yejidge and I found this an uncomfortable aspect of the book to read, although I found it felt almost normalised from part three onwards, and so less of a vital aspect of the storyline.

This book really makes you stop and consider the lengths people will go to - and the losses and let-downs they have to face before that -, to have a family. As you read Stay With Me you have moments where you believe the events which unfold are extreme and unlikely, but in reality, many couples will struggle to conceive and could face similar battles to Yejide and Akin.

Whilst Stay With Me didn't quite capture me the way Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine did, it managed to keep me gripped and willing more truths to surface, so I could see the whole picture.

*Feature includes complimentary press samples sent for review; I have not been financially compensated for this feature. Please see my disclaimer for more information.