Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ is the Nigerian writer’s debut novel which was published in 2017 by Canongate Books (see edition pictured below). This harrowing but ultimately hopeful tale has made an impressive name for itself being both longlisted and shortlisted for a host of prestigious, including the Dylan Thomas Prize 2018, the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2017 and the Goodreads Choice Award for Debut Goodreads Author 2017.

The audiobook was released on Audible in 2017, published by Canongate Books and was exceptionally brought to life by the narrator, Adjoa Andoh. It has a running time of 8 hours 5 minutes.

tw: child death, chronic illness

Stay with me is the gut-twisting debut novel about the intense tribulations of motherhood, as told through the story of Yejide. Set against the backdrop of a harsh military regime during 1980s Nigeria, Yejide and her husband, Akin are childless after several years of marriage, for which Yejide’s supposed barrenness is to blame. Akin’s family goad him to take a second wife, Fumi, as a solution to their problem but this only makes Yejide resentful towards her husband and more intent on getting pregnant before Fumi.

This is a story about loss, severed relationships, regret and the chance for redemption in the face of flawed humanity. It perfectly depicts the fierce love of motherhood and so much more, this book felt like a melting pot of human emotion. There was so much drama and grief that at times it was hard to listen to and not become emotionally invested. Adébáyọ̀’s writing perfectly captures the acuteness of Yejide’s suffering as well as the other characters; their anger, guilt and pain.

Stay With Me is a fictional life story novel, which will appeal to readers like me who love transgenerational stories that develop over time and take the reader on a journey. The transitions between timelines, past and present, was constructed in a way that held my interest as the story gradually unravelled. I also thought the dialogue was superb and seeing that I listened to the audiobook, I have to praise the excellence that was Adjoa’s Andoh’s narration. She gave a truly heartfelt, rousing performance.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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