Although Stay with Me was very readable, I had a hard time connecting and empathizing with the characters. Almost all of the characters prove to be deceptive and gets angry with each other for being deceived in return. Lots of tragedy and loss, but I didn't feel any strong emotion for the characters while reading. What I ended up feeling, were strong emotions against the characters; which may have just been the point.
When Yejide and Akin are introduced, we see a marriage under pressure. Akin, being the oldest son, is expected to produce children to carry on the family name and bring honor to their families. Yejide seems confident in their relationship and their ability to weather their hardships as long as they continue to present a lovingly united front against their meddling family. However, as the story unfolds the cracks in their relationship are seen, and some of those cracks turn into craters that may be too large to fill in.
I started out feeling sorry for Yejide. She had a rough childhood because of the loss of her mother in a family with multiple women who were all looking out only for themselves and their set of children. I hate it when adults choose to abuse children for no other reason than for existing. These women who should have taken Yejide in and made her feel a mother's love and protection, were nothing but petty and self serving. With the exception of one woman who came into Yejide's life much later, every woman in her life was unlikable. Unfortunately, Yejide ended up being culpable in some of her own unhappiness.
The unlikable characters in Stay With Me aren't limited to the women. The men in this one are self serving, and in my opinion, unmanly. A man who truly loves his wife, and even his selfish extended family, would not allow himself to be manipulated and bullied into actions that anyone would know will lead to nothing but heartbreak and disappointment. Akin is shallow and weak, and the reader gets to see that almost immediately. All of the lies, schemes, and lack of decent moral character throughout this story became more annoying as innocent lives were affected.
Even though I was unable to like anyone in Stay with Me, it is a well written debut story. I am glad that I read it, but it is not one that I would read again. However, I would readily read another book written by Ayobami Adebayo.
**I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.**
Yejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage--after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures--Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time--until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin's second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does, but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.