Stay With me by Ayobami Adebayo

Stay With Me is Ayobami Adebayo's debut novel about a marriage between two people in Nigeria, a marriage based on lies and the deepest desire to have children in a culture where bearing children is put above loyalty in a marriage.

When I read the summary for Stay With Me, I knew it was going to be an emotional story but I had no idea the scope of heartache I would feel throughout my reading. My heart hurt in equal parts for Yejide, who wants nothing more than to bear a child of her own and for her husband Akin, who's infertility causes such self destruction its almost hard to read with each turn of the page. They both desire the same thing, yet are unable to be open and honest with each other about their heartache.

"It was the lie Id believed in the beginning. Yejide would have a child and we would be happy forever. The cost didn't matter. It didn't matter how many rivers we had to cross. At the end of it all was this stretch of happiness that was supposed to begin only after we had children and not a minute before." p.221

I had to take quite a few breaks throughout my reading of Stay With Me, to cope with my own emotions and process what was happening in the story. Yejide's life is full of devastating losses and heartbreak, so much so that those final pages made my heart ache for her and all that she had lost.

As someone who has dealt with infertility and the desire for children in her own marriage, watching Yejide and Akin struggle was what left me the most emotionally scarred. Everyone handles the struggle of wanting children in their own way and Akin's choice of building a marriage around his lie was the worst thing he could have done. It hurt my heart to watch Yejide discover his lies and see how that affected her own thoughts about herself.

"But the biggest lies are often the ones we tell ourselves. I bit my tongue because I did not want to ask questions. I did not ask questions because I did not want to know the answers. It was convenient to believe m husband was trustworthy; sometimes faith is easier than doubt." P. 233

I'm so glad I read this book, as much as it made my heart hurt and brought a lot of my own emotions to the surface. Thank you to aaknopf for the copy!! I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a story outside their comfort zone, set in a place you're unfamiliar with. Especially if you don't mind shedding a few tears along the way.

Memorable quotes: 

"Besides, what would be left of love without truth stretched beyond its limits, without those better versions of ourselves that we present as the only ones that exist?" p. 75

"The reasons why we do the things we do will not always be the ones that others will remember. Sometimes I think we have children because we want to leave behind someone who can explain who we were to the world when we are gone." p. 119

"You can never cover the truth. Just as nobody can cover the sun's rays with his hands, you can never cover the truth." p.202

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
260 pages
Published by Aaknopf


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