Book review: Stay With Me

Ayobami Adebayo’s sensitive, exposing first novel is about the lies and false hopes we tell ourselves to stay sane, and the cataclysmic impact the decisions we make can have on the people we love. 

Book review: Stay With Me

Ayobami Adebayo

Canongate Books, HB £14.99;

ebook £5.22

Framed by a funeral taking place in Nigeria in 2008, Stay With Me explores the expectation and custom that a marriage isn’t considered complete unless a couple bears children.

Frayed by years of barrenness, Akin and Yejide struggle with their inability to conceive, an ongoing trauma that is only exacerbated when interfering family members demand they make room for a fertile second wife.

As man and (first) wife are riven by loss, resentment and jealousy, the Nigeria of the mid-80s and early 90s politically liquefies and reforms around them.

Adebayo also delicately weaves in the distress caused by sickle cell disease, the gene for which is carried by one in four Nigerians.

The scope of Stay With Me is huge, and yet, the writing of it is painfully intimate.

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