Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
"Nobody here knows I'm still married to you. I only tell them a slice of the story: I was barren and my husband took another wife. No one has ever probed further, so I've never told them about my children." This book absolutely gutted me… my heart completely broke for Yejide. This is a heavy read and I will say that if the subject matter of losing a child is a trigger for you, please know that this topic is heavily addressed throughout this book. The author is raw and honest regarding Yejide’s struggle with her grief and how she copes (or fails to cope) with reconciling that grief while living with the constraints her society has placed upon her. It has been quite a while since I have had such a visceral reaction to a character, but Moomi provoked an anger in me that I have not felt while reading in quite some time. I found the whole incident with Moomi and Sesan horrifying, but also it provided eye-opening insight in to the superstitions, folk lore, and rituals of the Nigerian culture.
This book covers a vast array of topics from polygamy and fertility to political unrest and it is all woven together so beautifully and packs an incredibly intense punch. Ayobami Adebayo does an extraordinary job of telling a tale of a husband and a wife, of love and betrayal, of hopes and shattered dreams. She masterfully explores what it is to be a woman in a society where the main expectation of her is to bear her husband many sons and the mental anguish that can come to pass when that is not possible. I loved Yejide’s character for her strength, her complexity and her fragility. As the book neared the end, I just wanted redemption and peace for her. My only issue with this story (and it is a small one) was that it was sometimes difficult to know who was speaking at the beginning of some of the chapters. This certainly wasn't a deal breaker for me, it just kept me on my toes. Adebayo will break your heart and then put it back together again with this compelling, powerful debut. I am not surprised at all that this novel has already been nominated for the Bailey's Women's Prize for fiction and I have no doubt there will be many more accolades to come. Stay With Me is in bookstores now. Thank you so much to Knopf Publishing for this beautiful finished copy. 4.5 stars.