Stay With Me Discussion Guide

Published on July 11, 2018

 

Why we chose this title:

Stay With Me is one of the best books I've read in a long time! I could not put it down. Everyone that I have recommended it to has also loved it. (I've been pushing it on everyone I talk to). It is such an intense story, and I really empathized with the characters and their situations. This title is perfect for book discussions. We have extra copies available in our Book Club collection. -Liz, Adult Services Librarian

About the Book: 

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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.

 

A Few Discussion Questions: 

 

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?

More Questions can be found at Penguin Random House.

Interviews with the Author:

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Refinery 29 Excerpt from the interviewAdebayo's investment in shedding light on infertility sprang from her confrontations with a similarly invisible disorder. Sickle cell disease, a genetic illness that affects 100,000 Nigerian babies every year, becomes a spectral presence for Adebayo's characters, haunting Yejide's desire for motherhood and slowly unraveling the secrets lurking in her marriage. Like the unspoken grief endured by young women trying to conceive, sickle cell represents an insidious crisis hidden deep in the chemistry of cellular inheritances.

HazLitt Excerpt from the interview: So when she’s living in the ’80s, it’s something that’s a possibility, but more and more, younger people were turning away from that model and embracing monogamous relationships. But it’s all so difficult because they’re also aware—and I think particularly for many women, there’s the awareness that this is an option that’s valid, that the man can choose to explore if he’s unsatisfied with their marriage in any way. And for which he will suffer, really, no consequences—at least no negative consequences from the society. So, as it plays out in the novel, it’s an agreement that they both have in the beginning, but when he goes back on it, she’s not going to have anybody feel—I mean, people will feel sorry for her, but people will also remind her that, well, his father did it. Her own father did it. So, well, it’s not such a terrible thing. But it’s obviously something that comes at a great personal cost for her and for the marriage. And even for the man himself. 

The Paris Review Excerpt from the interview: I definitely wanted to look at that, and this might sound a little bleak, but the sheer loneliness that accompanies being human and how we try to mitigate that and all the wonderful connections and relationships we get into, to connect with other people. For Yejide, the gold standard for her is to become a mother and then have a child. She feels that this relationship cannot be changed. She’s going to always be this child’s mother, and she’s going to always have somebody in her life. But it’s not that simple, is it?

Booklist Reader Excerpt from the interview: For me, the characters always seem to come before the themes and that was the case with this novel. Yejide and Akin arrived first and the themes emerged as I continued to write about their marriage. However, I’d always been upset by how often I’d heard of women being treated as less than human because they didn’t have children, and I suppose that’s one of the reasons why I gravitated towards that issue when I sat down to write my first novel.

Food & Drinks for Your Stay With Me Discussion:

Stay With Me is set in Nigeria, so why not try your hand at some Nigerian food and drink for your discussion?

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Suya is skewers of spiced cuts of meat, grilled over an open flame. It is usually served with raw chopped onions and served in newspaper. Get the recipe for easy Suya.

 

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Dodo is simply fried plantains. They are simple and easy to make and quite delicious too. Here's an easy Dodo recipe.

 

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Puff Puff is fried deep fried, light-as-air sweet dough balls, served alone or with sugar sprinkled over them. Get an easy Puff Puff recipe.

 

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Zobo is a hibiscus flavored drink popular in Nigeria. It is known as Sorrel drink in the Caribbean and by many other names in different countries. Get a recipe for Zobo.

 

What to Read Next:

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The Girl from the Garden by Parnaz Foroutan For all his wealth and success, Asher Malacouti—the head of a prosperous Jewish family living in the Iranian town of Kermanshah—cannot have the one thing he desires above all: a son. His young wife, Rakhel, trapped in an oppressive marriage at a time when a woman's worth is measured by her fertility, is made desperate by her failure to conceive, and grows jealous and vindictive.

Rakhel's despair is compounded by the pregnancy of her sister-in-law, Khorsheed, and by her husband's growing desire for Kokab, his cousin's wife. Frustrated by his own wife's inability to bear him an heir, Asher makes a fateful choice that will shatter the household and drive Rakhel to dark extremes to save herself and preserve her status within the family.

 

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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...