Author: Ayobami Adebayo
I remember buying this book at Patabah the Saturday in July before I went back to Yola to complete my Law School program. That day, my heart was full of optimism, but my pocket was empty (no, not half empty). I, nevertheless, drew money from my savings and bought Stay With Me and a couple of other books. (I may have shed a regretful tear or two in the cab back home tbh)
Anyway, I completed this book last week and I loved it! I know I always say that I love every book I’m reviewing and I know it’s beginning to sound so cliché and unrealistic but it’s true. I am very wary of reading any book that suggests boredom (even though love made me read some pretty boring books in the past).
Stay With Me is a beautiful story of Yejide in her husband’s house. Ayobami, the author, basically takes us on a journey of a Nigerian wife and addresses issues like: barrenesss, in-law palavah, the role of religion, polygamy, impotence, virginity and ignorance, patriarchy… And there’s this part where I really don’t know the word to call it. I mean, what do you call the act of procuring someone to entice someone to sleep with them. Pimping? Yeah, I think there was a pimp daddy in the book as well.
The setting of the book is in the mid-80s to 2008 and this is a little funny to me because I see most of the issues discussed, if not all, play out in 2017 right here right now. The only part I know that has gotten a little bit of modern attention is Yejide’s extreme devotion and submission to her husband’s people (I mean, the sister used to kneel down for her husband’s younger brother until… *ahem* I just lost my voice to a spoiler, sorry).
Yejide met her husband Akinyele while she was a student in the university. They were both on dates to the cinema with their individual boos and then fireflies and butterflies in their tummies won’t let them think straight; so they both ditched their boos that night and decide to be together forever.
Personally, I have conditioned myself to discard love stories like this as only relevant for the purpose of fictitious writing.
I am very worried about people who are quick to leave someone to whom they pledged some level of commitment in the twinkle of an eye, simply because of the length of my neck, or the way I laugh, or my knocked-knees or whatever has them feeling some kind of way.
Also, I’m one of those old-school people that romanticize inner beauty over physical beauty. Be neat and presentable because you have control over that one. Also, have a sound character and some common sense, because you have control over that one too. But I think it’s plainly unfair for ALL of my affection for you to hinge on whether you came to earth beautiful or not. (Haters will say that I’m ugly. *Smh*.)
Anyway, Yejide marries Akinyele (or is it the other way around now?) and Akinyele is really a cool dude; gentle and in awe of Yejide. But then Yejide can’t conceive and it’s becoming a problem not just to her husband’s people but also to her harem of mother’s. Since her own mother is dead, she has step mothers who act like they mean well but well, they just mean!
The novel takes twists and turns (as novels are in the habit of doing). The voices of narration actually alternate between Yejide and her husband, Akinyele and I thought that that was such a lawyer thing to do. That way, we have a picture of both sides of the story and we could then choose our sides with an informed mind.
I love how Ayobami, the writer, didn’t present one extremely flawed person and another extremely saintly one to us. To be honest, there was a climax in the novel (there’s actually a pun in this if you’ve read the book) where I just stopped and thought ‘Who do I support now? Who is wrong in this situation?’
And isn’t that always the case when couples quarrel or have misunderstandings? I have, too many times, been that person who stands quietly in a fight and each side comes and pokes my shoulder and say, ‘No, but listen to what happened.’ and goes ahead to say how their anger is justified.
And every time this happens, I realize that:
1. Quarrels in relationships are really just about trying to justify personal anger or jealousy or disappointment.
2. At the time of the quarrel, you are not making sense to the other person.
3. Couples will fight less if they make issues not about who is more entitled to be angry but about why both of them are feeling such and how not to feel that again.
(Yes yes yes. I’m single but versed in relationship sense)
Anyway, any other thing I’ll say about the book will most likely be a spoiler; which would either make you not read the book or make you hate me. I don’t want either of those things to happen, so yes, I recommend that you get the book and read it.
(oh, it’s honestly fuzzy in my mind but I think there’s some parts in the book that are sexual. You may want to skip those parts if you’re watching what goes into your mind…. Which you should be.)
What I loved about the book
1. I loved the writing style of the writer. Stay With Me is one of the few books that had me flipping without checking how many pages more. I loved that she was wrote simply; I respect writers who don’t over-complicate their work. Serious respect.
2. The political toppings: The writer, in an attempt not to make this just an ordinary book would slide in details of historical and political events. It was cool.
What I disliked about the book
1. There might have been just a little bit of an excessive revolving over particular events: Because we had to hear stories from both sides, we were sometimes presented with the same story twice. But funny enough, it wasn’t done Unprofessionally, it was just one of those things you couldn’t but notice.
In conclusion, yes, read the book.
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