I hope you’re having a great week! I just wanted to say real quickly that I am trying to change the format of my reviews and I’m also thinking about changing the overall look of this blog (again). I am still experimenting so I am sorry if this hurts the eyes a bit but I have a specific layout in mind that I want to start applying, I’m just still trying to figure out how. For the Booktube-A-Thon, I chose to read Stay With Me which is probably the best book I’ve read so far this year.
Title: Stay With Me
Author: Ayobami Adebayo
Publication date: August 22nd, 2017
N° of pages: 288 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does, but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine.
An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.
Review | The short version: This is not sponsored by Nike but: Just Do It. Read it. ASAP! And if you’re still not convinced, here’s the longer version: When I heard that this was shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, I was really excited about it and reading the synopsis just made me know that this will be one of my favourite reads of 2017. This book is no simple book. It’s an adventure!
I don’t exactly know how to talk about this book without getting into any spoilers but I’m going to try to. This book is packed with twists! Like, as soon as you start to move on from something, something else comes to surprise you even more.
Infertility is a global health issue. Although a lot of people are ashamed to bring it up, it is there and a lot of people are trying real hard to conceive a child. In this book, the main characters are fighting the same battle. Only their families were also involved in this battle by pressuring Akin, the husband, to take on a second wife that will be able to give them the grandchild they’ve all been waiting for. This is something that has angered me SO BAD. I absolutely hate it when parents are trying to get in their son’s or daughter’s marriage and try to destroy it. It’s something that I’ve seen both in fiction and in real life and it just angers me. Besides, it’s not like Yejide (the wife) didn’t want children and didn’t do anything about it! She was really trying so hard on her side as well. She still ended up being forced to accept Akin’s second wife. And that’s the point where mistakes and really bad things started to happen. It’s also where I got so invested into the story in a way that made me read that second part of the book in one sitting.
The book being quite short, the writing had to be very simple and straight to the point because although the book was short, it contained so much. It wasn’t too simple in a way that will make you feel that it was bland. On the contrary! It has a very nice flow to it and it won’t leave you be uninterested by the characters and what’s happening. I also loved the fact that we were able to get Akin’s version of the story and Yejide’s too. Both characters are flawed, they both made mistakes and I really hated one of the characters at first but then my point of view changed completely after hearing them out. And since there were so many twists, I just kept needing more and more. I was never able to predict what was going to happen next and it’s exactly what I’m usually looking for in books. Although, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting this multiple-twists thing to be in a literary fiction novel that talked about a marriage that was on the brink of getting destroyed.
I think that aside from all the twists, what really kept me invested in the story was that the characters felt real. I was taken in a Nigerian home and got to know about their day to day lives. I liked googling all the food and the historical events (to check if they’re true or fictional, that’s something I do with all books) in there and I specifically liked the sound of Moin-Moin which I kept repeating for a week. Throughout this book we also get to learn about the military coup that happened during 1985 led by the Major Babangida. I loved how this book took me to Nigeria and made me learn a bit about its food and its history. I didn’t know much but clearly Nigeria has fought a lot to shift towards a democratic government. Of course, the book isn’t only focused on that. What was also interesting was also knowing about the Yoruba people and their customs and beliefs. It just made me realize how really diverse our world is and the answer is A LOT. I am looking forward to having similar experiences with other books whose main characters have different backgrounds.
Yejide is a really strong, smart and opinionated woman. She might have made a few mistakes but no one is perfect. She was still my favorite character because she was compassionate and didn’t give up. She has only given up when she shouldn’t have but she still went a long way because while being modern, she couldn’t keep up with all the traditions at first and that was really hard on her. I felt really sad for her relationship with Akin getting weaker and weaker but it couldn’t have gone any other way. I loved their conversations once Yejide realized Akin has taken a second wife. I loved how she kept snapping back at him. It was hilarious!
There were a few flaws but they didn’t take out much from the story and it really depends on preferences. For example, although I really enjoyed all the twists and turns this book has taken, I found it a bit rushed. Perhaps if the book was a bit longer, it would’ve been better. It may also give the impression that it was unrealistic but having heard a few similar stories to this that have happened in real life, I didn’t think twice about this detail. I can’t invalidate someone’s story just because it doesn’t sound realistic to me. Also, at the start of every chapter, we never really know who’s speaking. Whether it was Akin or Yejide and although it gets clearer when we get to know the characters better, I would’ve liked a little notice at the beginning because I didn’t know there were multiple points of view in the book.
All in all, this was an amazing gut wrenching read. I highly recommend it, even more if you’ve read Homegoing and enjoyed it.