I have insomnia. Or at least, I think it’s insomnia. Is it insomnia when you can’t fall asleep? I eventually fall asleep, just after hours of attending to my breathing, and doing progressive muscle relaxation and reading. I think that’s insomnia. You know what does not make insomnia better? Reading a novel about babies dying. Just as a general rule I advise against dead baby novels before trying to fall asleep. Because even if you can fall asleep you inevitably dream about babies dying. Aka: nightmares.
But I digress. Ayobami Adebayo’s novel, Stay With Me, is about a bunch of things, including how parents respond to the death of a child. I first wrote that sentence “how parents cope with the death,” but one thing the novel explores is how grief is not (necessarily) a bearing up, or being brave, or moving forward, but might instead be thought of as a new, permanent relationship, with all the attendant ups and downs and changes of a relationship.
It’s also about Nigeria in the 90s. And polygamy. And mother-in-laws (aka: the demands of family).
But mostly it is about trust in marriage. The questions that you learn to avoid because you might not want to know the answer. How you might be willing to go years knowing you should say something about X problem (in this case, infertility and sex), but also knowing that to ask would mean a fundamental change in the relationship. And for better or worse you choose what you know.
It’s beautiful written, with vivid – if crushing – scenes of grief. So… enjoy?