Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo [in Library Journal]
Against a tumultuous backdrop of political, military, and economic turmoil in modern Nigeria comes a portrait of a marriage that begins with idealistic devotion and ardent promise. For Yejide and Akin, love should have been enough, but after four years without children, “even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break.” Unable to fend off his mother’s demands for a grandchild, Akin warily agrees to take a second wife.
When modern medicine can’t help her conceive, desperate Yejide climbs the “Mountain of Jaw-Dropping Miracles” and comes back down convinced (falsely) she’s pregnant. The need to procreate both unites and destroys the couple, each plagued with secrets and betrayals that eventually lead to parenthood but not without devastating regrets and searing tragedy.
Adjoa Andoh’s rich narration, softly infused with her native British accent, effortlessly adapts to a more pronounced Nigerian inflection as needed. Andoh becomes both husband and wife, modulating her mellifluous voice between Akin’s hope and defeat and Yejide’s hurt and resolve. With elegant control, Andoh elevates Ayobami Adebayo’s already extraordinary debut into a spectacular aural performance.
Verdict: Libraries owe patrons ready access to this sort of meaningful, transformative fare.