Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo tells the story of a middle aged married couple, Yejide and Akin who are struggling to conceive. The story is based on the lengths that they went to get a child and the ways their relationship suffered and conquered.
The story kicks off with the couple visited by Akin’s uncle, Baba Lola, and one of Yejide’s mothers, Martha (known as Iya Martha in the story). They have come to tell Yejide that she should expect a wife sister, as she and Akin are not able to get pregnant. Yejide is horrified and feels betrayed by Akin, as he never indicated any plans to seek other ways to conceive.
Akin’s second wife, Funmi, quickly bursts into the couple’s life, stirring trouble between them. Yejide feels the pressure and is prepared to do anything for Funmi to disappear. She goes to a priest in the high Mountain of Jaw Dropping Miracles, pulling a goat and almost breathless. The priest says to her, “Even if no man comes near you this month, you will be pregnant.” Yejide left the mountain with newfound hope that she will fall pregnant.
Within a short space of time, Yejide’s period is long overdue and morning sickness becomes a norm. Everyone at the salon is congratulating her, except for Funmi and Akin. Funmi passes away on the night of Yejide’s baby shower, after Akin (drunk) accidently pushes her (also drunk) down the stairs. Eleven months eventually pass and suspicion starts to arise in the neighborhood. Yejide was not pregnant. The whole family is in shock, but still motivate the couple to keep trying.
I will not lie, it was quite sad to read about a couple not being able to fall pregnant and worse, have absolutely no idea what the problem is. They literally go through the most from the beginning where Akin’s family members unexpectedly visit Yejide, straight through to parts where other people such as Funmi, Dotun (read to find out who he is!) are also caught up in this mess of a marriage.
It is definitely obvious that Yejide and Akin’s marriage had long been lacking communication; otherwise, they would have never landed in such situations of involving other people without pre discussing problems within their marriage. It began in the beginning of the book when Akin lies to Yejide by bringing their elders to their house to talk about their issues at hand and continues when Yejide is convinced that she is pregnant, but Akin is sure that she is not – because he is hiding one of his biggest secrets from her; that he is erectile.
One of the things that bothered me while reading this book was the fact that while Akin and Yejide were trying to get pregnant, their family and community put the pressure on Yejide. On Yejide’s side, she was also prepared to go to almost any extreme necessary to get a child, but the impact of the community did take a toll on her.
“Before I got married I believed love could do anything. I learned soon enough it couldn’t bear the weight of four years without children. If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break. But even when it’s in a thousand pieces around your feet, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer love.”
This is a very significant quote for me. It shows the amount of stress that Yejide is experiencing from not being able to fall pregnant but it also shows the hope that remained in her because of the deep love that her and Akin had for each other. The book goes back and forth, telling the present story of the couple not being able to fall pregnant and the past of how they met at college and the love that you could say they had at first sight. This was what made the book more worthy for me to read and it was a beautiful lift from the parts of the book that deal with struggling.
Putting things into a conclusion, I did enjoy this read a lot, as I love stories about love, since I do not read them a lot. I would recommend this book to people with a taste for romance and to the African fiction lovers. Other than that, I wish you a great December holiday. Stay safe and don’t drink too much coffee. Xoxo.