BOTM September 2018: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo

Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: August 2nd, 2011, 11:43 pm

September 1st, 2018, 2:13 am #1

How would you rate Stay With Me?

Total votes: 5
2(40%)
3(60%)
0(0%)
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Stay With Me full.jpg Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Published 2017; 260 pages

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.

Discussion of this book will begin on Wednesday, September 19th.
"There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books." - Irving Stone

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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

September 8th, 2018, 2:26 pm #2

Thank you for this selection.  It's a wonderful read that I couldn't put down.  I look forward to the discussion.  
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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Joined: October 21st, 2014, 12:07 pm

September 8th, 2018, 3:57 pm #3

I'm intrigued by this book. Planning on getting it.
Da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

Donne-moi mille baisers, et puis cent, et puis mille autres, puis une seconde fois cent, puis encore mille autres, puis cent.
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Lady Jayne
Clan Fraser
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 7:41 pm

September 8th, 2018, 7:26 pm #4

Naomi, you won't be disappointed! Stay With Me is a standout novel.

Can't wait to discuss it with everyone.
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

September 8th, 2018, 11:39 pm #5

This came in for me in the past day or two and I plan to start it next which will likely be either tomorrow or Monday.  I'm excited too because I've heard good things.
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Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: August 2nd, 2011, 11:43 pm

September 9th, 2018, 12:17 pm #6

My copy just came in too! Really looking forward to it.
"There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books." - Irving Stone

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Joined: October 21st, 2014, 12:07 pm

September 18th, 2018, 6:52 pm #7

Just finished this book one day ahead of the discussion and I am just dying to say that I loved it. Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down.
Da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

Donne-moi mille baisers, et puis cent, et puis mille autres, puis une seconde fois cent, puis encore mille autres, puis cent.
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Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: August 2nd, 2011, 11:43 pm

September 19th, 2018, 6:10 pm #8

The discussion of Stay With Me is now open! To kick things off, here are a set of questions from the publisher's website. Feel free to discuss these, or anything else that struck you while reading this book.

1. Discuss the early stages of Yejide and Akin’s courtship, from both of their perspectives. What is Yejide’s initial reaction to Akin’s romantic propositions? Consider Yejide’s childhood and past that is revealed over the course of the novel. What does she seek in a romantic relationship? How does Akin provide security for her? How does Akin convince Yejide that he is trustworthy?

2. Consider the family unit as a social force in Stay with Me. How do the opinions of Akin’s family members influence his decisions? Describe the relationship between Akin and his parents. How does Akin both obey and defy the wishes of his family? How does Yejide navigate her role as a daughter-in-law? 

3. In the beginning of Stay with Me, the reader is introduced to the central conflict of Yejide and Akin’s life: their infertility as a couple. How is Yejide and Akin’s childlessness seen as a reflection on the family unit? What is the burden of expectation placed on Yejide? How is she treated by Akin’s family as a result of her infertility? By the community? How do attitudes toward Yejide change once she is pregnant? 

4. Discuss the road leading to Yejide’s first pregnancy. How do the social pressures to become a mother weigh on Yejide? Once Yejide learns that she is no longer Akin’s only wife, how does the urgency of her mission become more pronounced? Consider the barriers to her pregnancy, and what she learns about herself from the field remedies and the medical establishment. How does the psychological trauma that accompanies her journey weigh on her throughout the novel?

5. The tension between modern attitudes and traditional thought informs much of Stay with Me. How does Yejide and Akin’s early agreement of monogamy conflict with the prevailing social attitude? How does this create tension over the course of the novel? How does Yejide defy the wishes of her husband’s family? How does the eventual shift of parental responsibilities to Akin upend the expectations of motherhood and parenting?

6. Consider the identity of “mother,” and how understanding of that role shifts for Yejide over the course of the novel. How does the story of her mother’s death influence her worldview and her perspective on family? Discuss the relationship Yejide had with her father’s other wives. Which woman in her life, if any, provides her with an understanding of what a loving mother-child relationship looks like? Once she becomes a mother, how does her self-image change?

7. Describe Yejide’s relationship with Iya Bolu. How does Iya Bolu’s attitude toward Yejide shift over the years? When does Yejide seem to earn the most respect from Iya Bolu? When does she earn her sympathy?

8. Consider the political background of Stay with Me. How does the instability of the government undermine the health and happiness of Yejide and her family? How does the political upheaval reflect the emotional turmoil of Yejide and Akin?

9. The reveal of Akin’s medical condition is an important development in the plot. Given this revelation, would you consider Funmi’s death to be purposeful? How did you interpret his reaction to her accusation? How does Akin contend with threats to his masculinity throughout the novel?

10. Discuss the significance of the hair salon in Yejide’s life. How does it encourage her independence? How does it act as a place of gathering within their community?

11. Compare the bedtime story that Yejide tells her children with the tale that Akin shares with Rotimi as she grows. What do these stories reveal about the worldviews of both parents? What lessons are they sharing? How is it a cautionary tale between parent and child? How does it reflect Yejide’s own childhood experiences?

12. Discuss the process of mourning as depicted in Stay with Me. How does the community react to Yejide’s mourning for the loss of her first child versus her second? Discuss the general attitude towards Yejide’s depression from her family and those around her. 

13. What is Akin’s relationship with his brother? How do they compete with each other? How do they jockey for the coveted spot of favored son throughout the novel? After their brawl, how does their relationship change? Do you think Dotun possessed real romantic feelings for Yejide? 

14. Discuss Yejide’s reunion with Rotimi. Were you surprised by this reveal? How did you interpret Timi’s insistence on calling Yejide “Moomi”? 

15. Stay with Me is a novel that challenges readers’ expectations with its surprising reveals, its secrets, and its deception. What plot development did you find to be most surprising? How does Adebayo play with the idea of expectation versus reality throughout the novel?
"There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books." - Irving Stone

Just another reader with a blog... check it out here.
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

September 19th, 2018, 9:09 pm #9

I finished listening to this a week or so ago, which means, of course, that my memory of all the details is a little fuzzy, but I'll make a few comments.

First, as I mentioned to a few people, listening to this book made me very angry at times.  I really dislike Akin for allowing Yejide to be blindsighted by his family showing up with the second wife.  If he didn't have the backbone to refuse his mother in her search for a second wife, he really should have at least had the decency to warn her about what was going on before it happened. In fact, except for his care of Timi near the end of the book, I really didn't like Akin at all.  He claimed to love Yejide, and I suppose he did, but to allow his family to force him into a second marriage when he knew full well that he was the reason that Yejide hadn't conceived a baby (and neither would Funmi) was really low.  And, if he was going to ask his brother to father a child for him, you'd think he could talk to his wife about it also so that it could be a joint decision (a bit like Colum/Dougal/Letitia).

I had known very little about the political situation in Nigeria, so I found those aspects interesting, though it felt a little to me that the personal story and the politics that surrounded them were somehow separate and I'd almost completely "forget" about one when listening about the other - if that makes any sense (not that I really forgot, but somehow they didn't seem integrated into a single whole for me).

I had assumed that the title was related to whether Yejide and Akin would stay together and was surprised when it was the meaning of the third baby's name.  Though it made some sense after losing two babies, I'm very glad that Timi refused to use that version of her name so she could be her own person and not just in relation to her parents and her lost siblings.  It seemed like kind of a cruel name/weight to put on a child, especially one who did in fact have the same disease that killed her siblings.

I couldn't believe that Yejude disappeared without finding out for sure whether Rotimi had died.  I know it sounded really bad with her unconscious and the riots and all, but how could she just assume something like that?  As a mother, I find that hard to take, though I know she was trying hard not to get attached to avoid the pain of loss that she expected to have.  I just can't fathom not finding out for so many years that your daughter was still alive.  I wanted to yell at her when she just disappeared, and was sure of what the ending would be at that point.  That said, however, I was glad when they reunited even though I kind of felt that it was a touch cheesy.
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Joined: October 21st, 2014, 12:07 pm

September 19th, 2018, 9:47 pm #10

Here are my first impressions. Later when I have time I will come back and think about the discussion questions.
I really enjoyed this book and enjoyed the way that it managed to keep me in suspense and I did like the ending. I didn't like Akin either for the way he lied. That said, it is hard to believe that Yejide had no idea of how babies are made. I guess that was the point of isolating her the way the author did.
There were a lot of things that reminded me of Africans that I have known. My ex husband is from Congo and I am still in contact with my in-laws. Which brings up a number of Africanisms: the "weak" man who submits to his family in order to save face before the community is a trope that I have seen in real life. Another one, hard as it is for us to believe, is the mother who willingly walks away from her children. In this case she believed her daughter was dead, but she didn't try to make sure of that either which is another part that is hard to believe. And the last one is the name: Many Africans give their kids names which are phrases like "he is mine", or "he was a difficult birth" (that is the name of one of my brother-in-laws and he wears if proudly!). My third child was born while my husband and I were going through a divorce and my husband insisted on naming him (it's his middle name, his first name is Joseph) Wetu which in his language means "He is ours" - as in mine, not yours.

Anyway, I will come back tomorrow to continue.

I
Da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

Donne-moi mille baisers, et puis cent, et puis mille autres, puis une seconde fois cent, puis encore mille autres, puis cent.
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

September 19th, 2018, 10:58 pm #11

Thank you Lisa for setting everything and for the questions. 

I read this book a bit ago and i remember really loving it. 

Audio and Naomi, I loved reading your posts. 

I really disliked Akin and his family and that he manipulated the affair between his brother and Yejide.  The union only brought heartbreak.  It was Funmi who revealed that Akin was not able to sire a child and Yejide, never having been with a man, had no idea, until perhaps lying with Akin's brother (I forget his name.)  The thought that Akin had actually lain with Funmi was abhorent to me.  They had mad an agreement.  I don't like to read about infidelity.  

Audio and Naomi, I had to ask myself how Yejide could have walked away and abandoned a child, especially one who might have gotten sick and needed her comfort.  It's unthinkable to me.  How heartbreaking to lose those children, I know but to leave a little one.  I remember crying with this novel.  That's how I know a book has captured me--my emotions, in this case, my tears, told me.

Naomi, thank you for sharing the Africanisms.  

After I read the book, I was taken with this book and went to look for anything on the author.  Here is one I enjoyed reading
New York Times Book Review
I enjoy the authors of Nigeria and I hope we read more of them.  
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: August 2nd, 2011, 11:43 pm

September 20th, 2018, 12:21 am #12

I agree with so many of the statements already made.

I really enjoyed Stay With Me, and thought the writing was quite lovely. I enjoyed how the author wove folktales into the story and how those reflected some of the plot elements.

The mix of modern society with older traditions was really interesting to me. Yejide was a college-educated woman, so it was jarring to see her in the role of obedient wife, and how tradition demanded that she kneel to her mother-in-law, for example. I did have a hard time believing that she could be quite so ignorant about sex and not realize that her husband was impotent. How cruel for him to leave her in the dark like that when she was suffering so much, with the charade of going to herbalists and even going up the mountain with the goat seeking a cure for her supposed infertility. Naturally, he knew she couldn't be pregnant when she had the false pregnancy, but he was more invested in his own pride than in being honest with his wife.

I had a very hard time as well with Yejide leaving her child. I guess I understand that she assumed Rotimi would die, just as her other children did, and that she couldn't handle it yet again, but it's hard to believe that she wouldn't have wanted to know for sure or to learn specifics. I was very upset that she chose not to stay with her in the hospital earlier. No matter what she felt as a bereaved mother, it seems too cruel to the child. I was happy to see that Timi accepted her mother back into her life without anger. But how could Akin not reach out to her or find a way to let her know she had a living child all those years. Thinking of those years of separation is just too awful.

NigheanDubh, I'd love to read more Nigerian fiction as well. It's fascinating to experience a world so different from our own.
"There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books." - Irving Stone

Just another reader with a blog... check it out here.
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audiobooklover
Clan Fraser
Joined: July 19th, 2010, 10:09 pm

September 20th, 2018, 2:20 am #13

In terms of Akin not reaching out to Yejide for all those years - I thought it said near the end that he and Rotimi hadn't found her until recently and Timi wasn't quite ready to contact her until the death of her grandfather gave a good excuse to invite her to come back.  I remember wondering about that myself, but I don't think he chose not to tell her all those years - I think it took a while to find her before he could have sent a message.
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DLT
Clan Fraser
DLT
Clan Fraser
Joined: May 26th, 2012, 7:06 am

September 20th, 2018, 6:50 am #14

This book really gripped me. I hesitate to say I loved it because I was so mad at Akin for not being honest, and at the relatives for the pressure they put on Yejide to conceive. I also felt that the relatives were very dismissive of Yejide's grief when she lost her first two children, so I believe that is why she left her third--she truly could not bear to go through another heartbreak and to have people tell her to ignore it.

Lisa and Naomi, I agree that it was very surprising that Yejide did not know about how babies were made, but maybe she knew the mechanics of what went where, and not the added detail of how the transfer of the seed takes place. I think that Akin should have defended her more and protected her from his mother, knowing that it was all his fault that she was not able to conceive.
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Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: August 2nd, 2011, 11:43 pm

September 20th, 2018, 5:21 pm #15

ABL, thanks for pointing out that Akin Rotimi hadn't known where Yejide was until a year previously -- fortunately, I hadn't dropped off my library copy yet, so I could go back and skim through the final chapters again. I'm still not satisfied with Yejide walking out of her married life and away from them without knowing for sure that her child had died. Akin even tells her that he'd told Rotimi that he'd told Yejide that Rotimi had died. I know we just have to accept that the death felt inevitable to Yejide, but particularly as a parent, I find it impossible to accept.

At least, though, we know that it wasn't considered proper for parents to see their children's graves or even know where the graves are. In Western culture, I'd assume that a parent who for any reason wasn't present when their child died, they'd go visit the grave. We know from the deaths of the other children that this wouldn't have been something Yejide would expect to be able to do.
"There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books." - Irving Stone

Just another reader with a blog... check it out here.
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