Hello everyone! The very exciting #TheReadingQuest read-a-thon is starting in just three days, so I thought it would be a good idea to get a review up before I start to tackle my massive TBR. Today I bring to you my review of my favourite book of the year so far – Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀. If you want an amazing family drama that turns out to be much more than it seems, definitely keep on reading!
Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀’s Stay With Me is initially presented as a family drama, but it is so much more than that. Yejide, the main character, can’t seem to get pregnant, so her mother-in-law decides to find a second wife for her son in order for him to have children. Yejide goes to incredible lengths to have a child so she and her husband can get rid of the new woman in the house, and this is both tragic and fascinating to read. After she experiments with one too many obscure fertility rituals, and after being subjected to the social pressure to be a good wife and have children for too long, she starts to spiral, and that is where the book takes some surprising turns. You think you know what’s going to happen, how it’s all going to end, and suddenly Adébáyọ̀ takes the story into a completely new direction.
The characters are all incredible. Yejide is bad-ass in a completely new and refreshing way. She fights for her husband, for her family, and for herself. Women described as ‘bad-ass’ are usually seen fighting monsters, but Yejide doesn’t need that to gain the reader’s admiration and be considered absolutely awesome. She is incredibly well-written and complex, and even though she can be unlikable at times, all of her actions make sense, and she remains a character who is enjoyable to follow throughout the novel. Her husband is very interesting as well. Although not as memorable as Yejide, he is a kind man and I often found myself more on his side than his wife’s (which is very unusual for me). The chapters written from his point of view were just as enjoyable as the others, and they gave the novel a really interesting second perspective. Yejide becomes angry and delusional at certain points of the novel, and without her husband’s more grounded view of the world, the story could have gotten confusing very quickly.
The book tackles so many complicated subjects really well, and it is difficult to do them all justice in a review. Adébáyọ̀ offers an interesting take on mental health in relation to motherhood, family, and social pressure, as well as an exploration of different types of love. The novel could be called a love story, but it is not just a love story in the traditional sense. The book showcases the complexity of relationships, in and outside of family, and the different shapes love comes in, as well as how it can sometimes not be explained – love happens, and then disappears, turns into something else, and more often than not nobody is exactly sure why.
But Stay With Me is not just a beautiful story, it is also a page-turner. I could hardly put it down the entire time I was reading it, and when I did all I wanted was to know what was happening to Yejide, what her husband was thinking, what their messed-up relatives were up to. The novel starts off with possibly the most claustrophobic scene I have ever read, the feeling of being trapped inside a family that won’t shake off their values making me angry yet excited to keep reading, and from there it only gets better. Even the slowest parts that barely have any plot somehow keep the story moving forward. The wonderful writing, of course, makes it only harder to stop reading.
In conclusion, if you want a story that will absolutely blow your mind, Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ is a safe choice.
Have you guys read Stay With Me? Do you plan to? I really urge you to put it on your TBR if it isn’t yet, it’s such a wonderful novel. And if you’ve read it, please do let me know – I would love to talk about it in the comments below!
‘Till next time and happy reading!