Those of you who follow my blog, will know this is the second time I’ve snuck in a review of a book that I wasn’t intending to read next. You know how it is, you pick up a book just in passing and then get hooked. So here I am reviewing Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo instead of the planned Stronger than Skin by Stephen May which I will review in the next few days – I’ve started it and it’s a compelling read, sorry if you were hoping I’d review it sooner.
Stay With Me is a powerful book, transporting the reader to Nigeria. The narrative swaps between Yejide and her husband Akin, covering a time period from the early 1980s to 2008.
It’s hard to write about the novel without spoiling the plot and Adebayo’s handling of time and information cleverly allow the story to unfold, teasing the reader with pieces of information about Yejide’s marriage and children in order to entice us further into the complexities of her relationship with Akin and their desire for progeny.
When I outlined the plot for my husband, he found the story unbelieveable – something I take issue with! – and without careful handling the plot might have felt farfetched. Instead, it feels true to the difficulties love has when it meets a world of differing expectations and pressures. Love needs communication and honesty. When it doesn’t have these, what remains?
Family, parenthood and love are at the heart of the novel and though the politics of family are on centre stage, the politics of government are never far from view, allowing for interesting comparisons between home and public truths that a more informed reader would be sure to make more of.
Yejide’s mother died in childbirth and as a consequence she longs to be loved, she longs to belong. She grows up struggling to take on the mantle of womanhood.
Akin too is missing something. As they both strive to find themselves, to take on the labels of lover, wife, husband, parent, the reader finds themselves following phantom paths that ultimately bring us to 2008 and the possibility of new beginnings.
It is pleasing that Yejide is a hairdresser, busy all day weaving hair, running her fingers through the lives of others as she attempts to unravel and rebraid her own.
Stay With Me is a moving story that unflinchingly depicts the pain of longing for and losing children. You need to be ready to read a book about this kind of loss, but if you are you won’t be disappointed. It’s a beautifully written story that you can’t help but feel immersed in.
In a few days I definitely will be reviewing Stronger than Skin by Stephen May, honest.