Stay With Me - Ayobami Adebayo
Reading Challenge Category: A book by an author from a different country from you
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. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me is a story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the power of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about the desperate attempts we make to save ourselves, and those we love, from heartbreak.
I love reading books about a completely different culture than my own. I could have gone easy with the category ‘a book by an author from a different country from you’ by just choosing an American author. However, I decided I needed to push my comfort zones. I have enjoyed the tales of Nigeria by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in the past, so when I saw how well ‘Stay With Me’ was being received I decided this would be the perfect book to read. I know the majority of it is set in 1980, and the world everywhere was different then. It is hard to believe sometimes that this is 39 years ago!! However, what was happening in Nigeria feels like a million worlds away. The terror they must have lived in, not knowing what was going on with the government and the military is unimaginable. The pressures on woman, also, to be only baby-making machines is something that I can not get my head around. It felt like something from a dystopian programme like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Not wanting children myself reading this book angered me. Yejide was treated like less of a person as it was thought she couldn’t conceive. I kept screaming “there is more to life than having children”, but I know their beliefs are different to ours here in the UK. The grip of helplessness she must have felt not being able to stop her husband taking a second wife. The turmoil she is put through, and the challenges she had to face were making me weep. I wouldn’t wish anything like this on my worst enemy. The ending was so poignant and heartbreaking. I hate lost time, and Yejide had lost too much, not knowing all the facts. I know that this book is all fiction, and I do wonder how close to reality it is for Nigerian women. I think I will need to do some research into this. This book was beautifully written and really encapsulated the essence of the tale. There are a few confusing moments when a new chapter starts in Akin’s voice, and it takes a while to know who is talking, but other than this a brilliant book!