A couple struggles with fertility—and fidelity—as Nigeria falls apart around them.
Yejide is furious when her husband, Akin, brings Funmi, a second wife, home to their house in Ilesa. Pressured by his mother, and by the constraints of Nigerian masculinity, to conceive a son, Akin seeks a solution to their marriage’s childlessness—even if it means hurting Yejide in the process. In alternating chapters, Yejide and Akin tell a desperate story of hope and deceit, grief and forgiveness. “I simply had to get pregnant, as soon as possible, and before Funmi did,” explains Yejide. “It was the only way I could be sure I would stay in Akin’s life.” Yejide’s path to motherhood is marked by operatic tragedy, with the requisite affair and multiple deaths. Although Adebayo wields misfortune to shed light on the pressures of marriage, melodrama, at times, crowds out sympathy for the human-sized grief of her characters. Still, in the moments when Yejide confronts the fear and uncertainty of raising children with sickle cell anemia, Adebayo's writing shines. Set against a backdrop of student protests, a presidential assassination, and a military coup, Adebayo's novel captures how the turmoil of Nigerian life in the 1980s and '90s seeps into the most personal of decisions—to fight for, and protect, one’s family.
Adebayo’s debut marks the emergence of a fine young writer.