Thursday, 1 March 2018

Stay With Me

There's something daunting yet brilliant about reading books that are out of my comfort zone. The satisfaction of knowing I have read it and the disbelief that I hadn't read it already. It's one of the reasons that I am loving reading the Mumsnet Book Club titles, there's so much variety. 

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo is one of those books that I was definitely daunted by reading. A harrowing subject matter, location that was miles away from my comfort zone and a host of award accolades held to it's name. But as soon as I started reading it, I was transported and hooked. I couldn't put it down. 


Set against the modern Nigerian landscape, the story is about Yejide and her husband Akin. Having met and fallen wildly in love at university, they swiftly tied the knot and set up life together. Whilst they may look as though things are going okay, Yejide can't fall pregnant. Soon a new wife is brought into the family by Akin's mother in order to bring a child into the world. But whilst the extended family are happy at the prospect of a potential new baby, Yejide know's the only way to secure her happiness is to fall pregnant herself. At any cost.

The first thing that stood out to me was how strong the female characters were. From Yejide who is determined and driven to get pregnant to prove her place in the family, to Moomi who is adamant that she will have a grandchild no matter the amount of wives it takes. I honestly admired Yejide's strong will and character and felt like I was rooting for her the whole way through the story, no matter what happened to her.

The one thing that struck me was how strong different culture's traditions are. Being from a family that whilst sentimental, is all about creating new traditions, it was fascinating to see the lengths the characters would go. The rules that were enforced despite modern culture trying to say otherwise. In Nigeria, a childless woman is a tragedy and probably from the wrong bloodline. Where superstitions and beliefs of magic and blessings leave Yejide breastfeeding a goat on a mountain to try and bring on pregnancy. It truly left my heart aching for her and cheering when things feel like they start to get better.

Without giving too much away, there is a huge focus on loss and acceptance in the story. The losses that Yejide endures left me tearful and heartbroken, whilst the way grief and the loss of a child is shown truly makes you want to reach through the page and give her a hug. It's so gorgeously written that you can't help falling for the way the scenery and characters are described.

One aspect I chucked at and loved was the way that the men were portrayed in this book. With Akin having secrets and putting the strain on his and Yejide's marriage and his brother being a prolific cheater, it's easy to see how whilst men might rule the family, their roles should be questioned. I loved how the story unraveled and Yejide learnt the truth about her past and future. How her thoughts of those around her changed when the lies unraveled.

Stay With Me was a story of love, loss and trying to forge new traditions in a culture that is firmly stuck in their ways. It's about learning who you are and finding yourself amongst growing old with someone else. It's about truth and belief. It's a book I loved.

“If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break. But when it's in a thousand pieces around your feet, that doesn't mean it's no longer love.”


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