Book Review : STAY WITH ME by Ayobami Adebayo

Title : Stay With Me

Author : Ayobami Adebayo

“See, we are not asking you to stand up from your place in his life, we are just saying you should shift so that someone else can sit down.”

Ayobami Adebayo’s “Stay with Me” is set up in ILESA (Nigeria) 1985 through to the 21st century in JOS 2008 and follows the story of Nigerian Couple Akin Ajayi and Yejide
Theirs was a love at first sight fueled by the workings of fate and the death of three students in a University protest. Their tale is brought to life surrounded by the company of supporting characters, Dotun – Akin’s womanising younger brother, Iya Bolu – a rival hairdresser, Moomi – Akin’s mother and Yejide’s stepmothers who took over their home after her own mother died in childbirth.

The couple are deeply in love and had agreed that polygamy was not their thing. But soon you realise that there are things even love can’t do. If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break.

One of these is the burden of childlessness after 4 years of marriage which send Yejide into a pit of desperacy . This was greatly reinforced By Akin’s position as a first born son and hence his responsibility to produce an heir and the persistence of his mother “Moomi.”

Ayobami introduces us to what is all too common in most African societies – exploring the roll of societal pressures and popular notions held on womanhood and how they are disproportionately affected by the burden of childlessness.
Women manufacture children and if you can’t you are just a man.

The elders even go as far as bringing a second wife in attempts to bear their much desired heir. This was one of the most dramatic scenes for me in the book because of the language used by the characters. “If you don’t, he will die childless. I beg you, don’t spoil my life. He is my first son, Yejide. I beg you in the name of God.’

Desperate times call for desperate measures and we see Yejide go breast feed a white goat without wound or blemish on the mountain of “Jaw dropping miracles.”

After a couple of fails, her determination to have children and silence societal pressures finally pays off and she bears children only for us to be introduced to the genetic interplay of sickle cell disease.

they named her Rotimi, a name that implied that she was an Abiku child who had come into the world intending to die as soon as she could. Rotimi – stay with me.

Stay with me explores a wide range of topics from loss, polygamy, infertility, infidelity, pride, betrayal, masculinity and to a lesser extent mental health.
She also hints on the political climate where students are shot during protests, elections are nullified by the military and armed robbers give advance notice before robbing neighbourhoods.

Often times we naturally sympathise with the protagonist and demonize all other characters but in this book Ayobami Adebayo shared perspectives from both Akin and Yejide. This leaves you flipping the blame game because nothing is black and white and there are always those grey areas to consider.

As I read this book I honestly kept landing face first on the twists and turns in the book. It keeps you on your toes and scenes move from pure ecstasy to deep seated agony and vice versa in a matter of paragraphs.

I loved that Ayobami uses folk tales like “He who has children owns the world” or the “tale of the of Oluronbi and the Iroko tree” to further cement her themes in our minds.

I must admit though that I wished the supporting characters were developed a bit more because most of them were witty and often blurted out dramatic statements that brought a tinge of humour to this mostly heart breaking book.

As Ayobami’s debut book, stay with me for me was easy to digest and I read it in three seatings. I also thought her use of language was excellent and easy to understand and she brought her themes to life with ease.

The rest of my thoughts can be shared better over tea with the author.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Please share with me in the comment section.

Bellows of Love

©Tales of a Curious mind

30 thoughts on “Book Review : STAY WITH ME by Ayobami Adebayo

  1. Great review I like how you casually skip over the face twists to let whoever will read the book experience it themselves..
    We have Shona saying chakafukidza dzimba matenga the literal translation to English would be what covers a house is the roof its a philosophical way of saying that we do not have x-ray eyes and cannot see what happens behind the closed doors of a house or home… well except for those who live in it

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I usually avoid reading book reviews before I read a book because of the spoilers without any kind of warning. I’m all for experiencing the book.

      I’m also going to have to borrow this Shona saying to sound wise in conversation 😂

      Thank you B for passing by 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Read the book and agree with you about the brutal plot twists, and how one chapter you are ecstatic and the next wailing over the agonizing situations presented to the duo. I’d love to know your thoughts about the actions of Akin’s conspiracy with Dotun and their resulting consequences! As well as the last chapter’s unfolding of events. Lastly, totally concur with the point you made about the blame games we as readers had to partake in, well executed by the writer!
    Do you know any other book she has written?
    Lovely review!


    1. I avoided this conversation intebtuonally because I realised it would be a huge spoiler.
      For someone that hates lies I was Definitely against the conspiracy though the fact that Yedije also went ahead and did not tell Akin makes it hard for me to choose sides.

      The ending was the biggest shocker and is why I want that cup if tea with Ayobami. Like how???? We. Went through all those chapters and then you shock us like this.

      Those are my thoughts


  3. The way you unpack this book but there is still more to it from the comments…..hmm, I should push it a bit higher on my reading list.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks Fiona for the review, you really did well with it, added it to my TBR list for the plot twists. Lately I am getting into more African lit which you love, kindly share with me some of your recommendations. Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for posting this review! When I read the novel, I thought it was a little predictable (I think I’ve watched one too many Nollywood movies with this storyline) but somehow, I was still captivated by the story.

    I also loved the use of folk tales, Daughters Who Walk This Path by Yejide Kilanko adopts a similar narrative style, if you looking for a recommendation. I wrote a post about Stay With Me on my blog, if you’re interested.


  6. I loved it so much that i read it all night. It was captivating and different from the kinds of books i had been reading. Another i would recommend is Yaa Gyasi’s Home Going.
    I have never felt more proud to be African than when i read their work. At the end of each book i was nodding to my self and thinking, yeah, we are this good!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You know it was easier to access the African lit when i was younger because school libraries have loads of it. But now i do not know who is writing what anymore. Too many distractions and when i go to the book shop i cant afford them all but i find it hard to go home with just one.


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