Best book i've read this year.
I had no idea what I was getting into when I started this. Adebayo’s debut is spectacular. She studied with Adichie and Margaret Atwood (and you can tell). The experience of reading this was a blur for me because I essentially cried the entire time (had to stop reading during lunch at work because I couldn’t keep myself together). Stay With Me was released in July 2017 (alongside heaps of glowing reviews), but I didn't get a copy of it until last week. S/O to the folks at Magers and Quinn for recommending it. I appreciate all of you!
This is a story about marriage, motherhood, unspeakable loss, and what it’s like to find happiness late in life. After four years of marriage, Yejide and her husband Akin are unable to have children. Akin’s mother pressures him into taking another wife in hopes that a younger woman will successfully conceive. Repulsed by her family’s polygamous tradition, Yejide decides that the only way to truly save her marriage is to get pregnant. After years of trying, she does. Upon the birth of the child, Yejide and Akin realize that (1) a child cannot save a sick marriage, and (2) love cannot save a sick child.
All three of Yejide’s children suffer from sickle cell disease (SCD). Adebayo has personal experience with this: though she doesn’t have SCD, she carries the gene (1/4 Nigerians carry at least one sickle cell gene—if she marries a carrier, their biological children will have 50% chance of inheriting SCD). In a fascinating interview with the Guardian, Adebayo explains that she often pops the question ("Are you a carrier?") on a first date: “When you meet someone, one of the first questions on your mind is: are they a carrier? These days, it is one of the first things I ask. And if someone is a carrier, I wouldn’t consider a serious relationship. That’s what I mean—it is a life defining issue for us. It shapes how we see the world.”
I don’t want to write much more in fear of spoiling things, but please know that my review doesn’t come close to conveying the heart of this book. There’s not much that Adebayo doesn’t touch on here. Please read this and talk about it with me? I have a lot of feelings.