Adebayo’s Stay With Me is a delightful read. I liked how the chapters arrayed the many puzzles in the narrative as the story intensified with time. The writer wove time like it were fabric, as language was also used in a manner only known with good storytellers.
Of the many things which stood out for me about the book, the locality of language was the most thoroughly thought through. Ayobami Adebayo made English Language accessible as she localised it. In the conversations, the localisation of the English Language was very evident. And this isn’t just enticing but empowering. To say it how I thought about it, I believe Adebayo was able to colonize the English language like Achebe did with Igbo in his debut, Things Fall Apart.
Ayobami Adebayo wrote in a manner that was both endearing and bold. She wove all the Literary devices into this narrative in a manner that made them seem almost as if she didn’t do anything big deal-ish.
There comes a point in this narrative where a familiar feeling begins to creep in as one is immersed into the world of Stay With Me. That feeling was there as I read through Lila and Lenu’s adventures in Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Diaries, it was there as I got sucked into the worlds of Garcia Marquez in the Hundred Years of Solitude. It is the feeling one gets when they get immersed into the environment of a story, which means as a reader in your mind’s eye, you begin to see things, like the shape of the house, the sepia of the time among many other filters.
I didn’t appreciate some things about this narrative though. For instance, I had an issue with the first person narrative technique in the book. And this is because of the dual point of views from where the narratives was told. For one, I thought the juxtaposition between two of the main characters in the narrative seemed unnecessary. Although it worked out in the end, it was distracting and this led to certain facts in the narrative to be recounted over and over and again. I mean I understand why Akin’s story would seem necessary to be told, what I don’t understand is why it had to accompany the chief narrative the entire time. Perhaps if that were to be the case, Dotun’s part in the narrative should have come in handy too.
Stay With Me opens by taking readers right into the heart of the narrative, in the very middle of the drama that was to unfold, thereby giving us a sense that Yejide, the main character is the one whom our sympathies should belong to. The book goes on to tell a love story, one that would break your heart as you learn to experience the varieties of ways people can suffer in the name of performing societal expectations in achieving motherhood.
The novel alternates between the realities of both Akin and Yejide. We learn of their struggles and the fears of having children and we also learn of the extent they were both willing to go to actualize this dream of theirs. Yejide would have the child she had always wanted. The child would be her means of escape but not the permanent happiness she had hoped for.
The narrative examines how we as a people learn to alternate our dreams and expectations into tangible products with possibilities of expiry and how we deal with the repercussions of such decisions.
This book is exceptional.