Stay With Me and The Glass Castle (movie)

Greetings and Happy Halloween. I’ll try to remember the candy for Tuesday evening. Last week, I was in Southern California visiting my parents — where I also got to see my brother and sister who gathered for a couple days. It was a scorcher there. We spent some time inland not too far from Palm Springs and also at the beach at the OC where it hit over 100 degrees. Yikes it’s never that hot at the beach! Well at least since 1965, so confirmed the newspaper. I went swimming in the Pacific multiple times — which says a whole lot — as the water is usually freezing, but it felt great this time. I guess I hadn’t been back during late October in a couple decades so I expected some autumn temps but apparently not lately. So much for fall. It was a bit confusing, though not all together unpleasant for a current resident of Canada.

While there, I finished Nigerian author Ayobami Adebayo’s debut novel “Stay With Me.” It’s about Yejide and Akin — a young married couple in Nigeria who love each other very much but whose fertility issues end up driving their relationship to the brink. After a couple years, in which Yejide can’t get pregnant, the husband’s in-laws suggest a second wife for him, which apparently is the tradition there of having multiple wives. Though neither Yejide and Akin, who meet years before at university, really want this and conspire separately taking significant lengths for a solution to their pregnancy problems that ends up having devastating consequences.

Ohhh, there’s a lot of grief in this story, which is told in alternating chapters by the husband and wife. If only they had talked their personal problems through, but no! Too much pride and tradition seems to stand in the way. At different times, I sympathized with both of the protagonists, but I also found fault with their decisions too. Their head-space seems to drive both to make some poor choices, which put me on edge about them. Despite this, I liked how the story, which is set against a backdrop of Nigeria’s political upheavals, explores issues between tradition and modernity and masculinity and femininity, as well as self-identity. You get the feeling that these characters are pulling against the past in Nigeria while trying to step into a more modern and democratic time.

There’s quite a bit to think on in this short novel, which rolls along at a steady pace. After finishing it, I didn’t know just what I felt about it at first — for sure, I was relieved the ending was happier — but as time passed I’ve thought “Stay with Me” was potent, sad, thought-provoking and well done. It explores one couple’s marriage a little like Lauren Groff’s novel “Fates and Furies” did — combined with the backdrop and culture of Nigeria like in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel “Americanah.” Both were quite effective. I’d like to read more novels from African authors, so this is a new start.

Also last week before I left for California, my husband and I saw the movie “The Glass Castle” at the $5 theater in town. Despite my misapprehensions that the movie would be bad based on the trailer and critics’ reviews and that it wouldn’t live up to the book, it ended up being quite good. So the movie proved me wrong big time! My husband and I had both read Jeannette Walls’s 2005 best-selling memoir this summer and both liked the movie.

Although it’s a rough, condensed version of her family’s story, the movie still manages to hit some of the essence of her superb book. It cuts to the universality of the parent – child relationship, and doesn’t go too easy on how terrible these particular parents were at times, though the mother seems noticeably a bit less of a problem than she appears in the book.

Brie Larson as Jeannette Walls and Woody Harrelson as her father end up being quite excellent. (Brie earns big kudos from me for taking on the movie adaptations of the book “Room” and now “Castle” in roles that surely weren’t easy.) So despite all the negative hype about the movie, I’m glad I saw it. While it might not be as shattering or as great as the memoir is, it is still worth seeing as a heart-tugging drama about children and their parents. I especially liked how they show some of the real photos of the family and places at the end of the movie. Hooray for Jeannette.

How about you — have you read “Stay With Me” or seen this movie — and if so, what did you think?

Till next time, I’ll leave you with this parting shot of the sunset at the beach in California taken by my brother while I was there. Who knew — it’s never too late in the season for beach reads.

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22 Responses to Stay With Me and The Glass Castle (movie)

  1. Stay With Me has gotten a lot of hype so I’m glad to see it’s good. I think many problems could be solved if people would just talk.

    I was worried about The Glass Castle movie, too, but haven’t seen it. I guess I’ll have to wait for streaming at this point.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Kathy, yeah I agree with you — quite a few of these novels about marriages all have miscommunication or non-communication as a major problem with their lives etc. This novel too is like that. Check out The Glass Castle if you get a chance. Cheers.

  2. Brian Joseph says:

    Great reviews.

    Stay with me sounds interesting. I really need to read more books by African authors. The characters and plot of this one sound very intriguing.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Thanks Brian, yeah I’m trying to read authors from other continents once in a while. So far the 2 Nigerian authors I’ve read – have been impressive! I’ll try to find more.

  3. Carmen says:

    Stay with Me sounds heartbreaking. I’ll be watching The Glass Castle when it becomes available for rent, possibly by mid November. I’ll let you know how I liked it.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Carmen, yeah I couldn’t take another sad occurrence in Stay With Me so I was glad the ending was a bit happier. Thank goodness. As for Glass Castle, I’ll be interested to hear what you think of it. I’ll probably see it again once it’s on rental. Cheers.

  4. I also loved The Glass Castle…and in some ways enjoyed the movie more than the book. Maybe because I seem to connect more readily to the visual images in movies. I also loved the movie ROOM, but haven’t yet read the book. I’m reluctant that it will be disappointing after seeing the film.

    Castle could have been bad, though, as some adaptations are. So I was happy about how this one played.

    Thanks for sharing and for visiting my blog.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Wow Laurel, glad you liked the movie of The Glass Castle! interesting to hear you liked it a bit more than the book. The movie Room was a nail-biter for sure. I’ve been a bit too scared or claustrophobic to read the novel of it so far. I usually like comparing the books & movies of literary stuff — sort of makes it fun. Enjoy your week.

  5. I liked Stay With Me, and saw it as a story about so many things including the devastation created by lies. If only Akin and Yejide could have found a was to talk to each other!

    Loved The Glass Castle and always am hesitant about movies based on books I care about. Still, like you, I want to see it.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Yes Susie! I just wish the couple in Stay With Me could’ve communicated with one another as they did love each other. Oh I’m still trying to change that story in my head, LOL. If you get a chance, go ahead & see The Glass Castle movie it wasn’t as bad as I feared — it gets quite a bit of the book!

  6. Rachel says:

    I’ve read The Glass Castle but haven’t seen the movie yet. The previews made it look like the parents weren’t too bad, just free-spirits. So you think the actual movie does show how the parents really were? It’s been a long time since I’ve read the book but I remember being really mad at them.

    I just met one of my daughter’s friend’s mother last night who moved here (Missouri) from Nigera a few years ago. Listening to her stories of life over there made me cry. We are so privileged to live here! I can’t even imagine.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Rachel, I agree the previews made the movie of The Glass Castle seem ridiculous compared to the book, but actually it’s quite a bit better than that. You still get mad at the parents in the movie. See it if you get the chance. As for Nigeria, that’s heartbreaking to hear about your daughter’s friend. I can only hope it’ll become more modern & democratic & change for the good. As long as we have novelists such as Adichie and Adebayo and others, there is hope!

  7. Judy Krueger says:

    Hey, I was confused about the weather last week and I live here year round. This morning it is lovely, temps will be in the high 60s today and there are clouds and plenty of humidity. Yay!
    I love your review of Stay With Me. I want to read it.
    We are in agreement on The Glass Castle movie. I don’t know what all the negative reviewers were on about. The tyranny of Rotten Tomatoes maybe?

    • Susan Wright says:

      Oh good Judy, I hope you get some cooler temperatures there & maybe rain too? I couldn’t believe it when I was there, wowza that was hot. As for Stay With Me, these Nigerian female authors are quite impressive to me. I will keep my eye out for more African authors. & so glad if you got to see The Glass Castle movie too, hooray! The movie seemed to prove me wrong in a big way. Brie Larson knocks it right out of the park. Ha. I was pleased b/c the book made quite an impact on me. Jeannette Walls surely can write.

  8. Ti says:

    Stay With Me sounds pretty good. I had no idea what it was about but I can see it being pretty heavy given the subject matter.

    I am the only person on the planet who thought The Glass Castle was just okay. It is very similar to my childhood growing up but she made it seem not so bad when in fact, it was pretty rough, at least for me. I know her family handled their lifestyle different than mine did but it was a little too close to home for me to get something out of it.

    I can’t believe we are almost in November and the weather today is just now giving me a glimpse of hope. Cool and drizzly for not for long.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Ti, yeah SoCal almost burned me up last week. I couldn’t believe it! I hope you’ll get some rain this fall and “winter.” As for Stay With Me, it is quite sad & potent a book — as always I wanted to shake these characters but the author did it well too. The thing with the Glass Castle is that I thought Jeannette Walls wrote about it so well. Her attitude and writing rose above many other terrible childhood memoirs. It was darkly humorous in places too. Usually I don’t like memoirs about bad families, but this one hooked me. Though I know what you mean, about being too close to subject matters sometimes, and that can alter one’s feelings on a book. So I get what you’re saying.

  9. Catherine says:

    You got to swim in the ocean?! That is one of my favorite things to do even though it has been many years since it happened. Not in the Pacific this far north!

    I agree about Stay With Me- so much sadness. They were unknowingly fighting against each other.

    Glad to hear about Glass Castle. I’m going to see if it’s still around.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Hi Catherine, yeah I couldn’t believe of swimming in the Pacific this late in the season. It felt great! Glad you thought the same about Stay With Me; your reviews are always so good. And see the Glass Castle if you can. I think it might be available on rental now. Hmm.

  10. I might have missed the sunset in Kanyakumari in India, but the Californian one makes me happy, Susan. Thank you. ‘Stay With Me’ is in my TBR and I am adequately teased to read it soon. 🙂

    • Susan Wright says:

      Yep, I send that sunset out to you Deepika. All the way to India 🙂 …. This week I will send you snow too, ha. Hope you enjoy your “autumn.”

  11. I don’t care what the critics say–I really want to see The Glass Castle. It looks amazing and reminds me a little bit of Captain Fantastic, which I absolutely loved.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Yes Kate, see it if you can! It’s better than it was reviewed. I did like Viggo in Captain Fantastic, living out in the woods with his kids. I picture him that way.
      🙂

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