My book shelf has always been filled with an eclectic array of reads. Black authors have always featured heavily, though the majority have been African American. It’s been a real treat to read some of my current book selections as they’ve hailed from West Africa and the UK. One of my most recent reads is Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. It was one of the must read books recommended to me earlier this year.

I wrote about how beautiful and raw I found this book on my Instagram page. It was such an epic read that I had to take some time out before even considering another book to read. It was important to sit in the emotions the author invoked in me with her beautiful, poignant writing style. Normally, I flit from one book to the next. Not on this occasion.

What is Stay With Me About?

Taking place in Nigeria, the book follows the life of Yejide, a university graduate who married the man she met whilst she was a student. Yejide is Akins’ first wife but has troubles conceiving and is soon faced with the embarrassing situation of having a second wife introduced into the fold.

Tinuke Bernard reading Stay with Me

Desperate to have children and not have the second wife topple her spot as Akin’s one and only true wife, Yejide resorts to desperate measures to conceive. Fasting, praying and even trekking up mountains carrying a goat to seek out a special traditional healer.

When Yejide is later blessed with children, these blessings become short lived as tragedy after tragedy befalls her family. We read from both husband and wife’s perspectives throughout the book and have a deep insight into the pressures of living a modern, middle class life whilst balancing and honouring more traditional views and practices.

So much happens during the course of this book and it’s sometime hard to believe that an entire lifetime is packed within a surprisingly quick read.

What I liked most about Stay With Me

Tinuke Bernard Stay with Me

I’m half Nigerian. My name is the most Nigerian thing about me. That and my love for Nigerian cuisine. Everything else I’ve had to learn myself. I loved that this book drew upon current affairs of the time to help set the scene and draw the readers in. Also using food and other everyday cultural aspects, such as hosting naming ceremonies really added layers of realness and colour to the story.

There were moments in the book where what may have been written in passing, or at the very least, not with the depth I took from it in mind, led me to have lightbulb moments about my own family or friendship circles. Where I saw that it was a cultural norm to speak in a certain way or think in that way. Something that is sometimes hard for my very Westernised brain to always detect, was cemented whilst reading this book.

stack of books to read

I also loved that it dealt with everything from family dynamics to socio-economics. From baby loss to male fragility, all in a way I’d not read before. Both sensitive yet raw. Honest and enlightening. I felt the pain. I understood the need to not acknowledge situations that would have been too painful to process.

Would I recommend Stay With Me?

Yes 100% I’d recommend you read this book. You don’t have to be Nigerian to find this story moving and connect with it. You don’t even need to be black. You just need to be human. The story of family, of motherhood, of heartbreak and loss is universal. Adebayo explores these concepts and many more in a way that will have you crying one moment and feeling uplifted and hopeful in the very next breath.

In my opinion, Stay With Me would make an excellent Book Club pick or something to read by yourself. There is so much to unpack and worthy of discussion in this mighty but little novel.

Have you read Stay With Me? If you have, do let me know what your thoughts were!


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