In Nigerian culture, where polygamy is accepted and bearing children is of utmost importance, Yejide and Akin agree that they will have a monogamous relationship in which to raise their children. Having both grown up in polygamous households, they had experienced the secrets, rivalries, strategies, and strife that characterized these marital relationships and families, often destroying people’s lives. They wanted none of that.
But four years into their marriage, Yejide is scorned by Akin’s family because she has not yet given birth to a child. Akin’s family takes matters into their own hands. When a delegation of family members arrives at her door, Yejide “could sense that they had come prepared for war.” Her world collapses when they introduce a woman to her who they claim is Akin’s second wife, one who will bear him a child.
Things are not what they seem in this intimate portrait of a couple’s marriage where cultural practices threaten to shatter intimacy and trust. One secret after another is unearthed until both Yejide and Akin’s motives and desires are revealed.
With deft and subtle strokes, Nigerian author Ayobami Adebayo juxtaposes the turmoil, deception, despair, and hope of Yejide and Akin’s marriage with Nigeria’s turbulent political landscape from 1985 till 2008 and the underlying hope she has for her country’s future.
Stay With Me echoes themes found in biblical stories where polygamous relationships and the inability to bear children wreaked havoc in people’s lives. (Knopf)