I am absolutely stunned by the cover of Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo, and I was very excited to score it on Edelweiss. While this book deals with serious topics, it has a lovely rom-com feel and I liked it a lot!
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The summary, from Amazon:
One of Betches’ 7 Books by Black Authors You Need to Read This Summer
One of Elite Daily’s Books Featuring Interracial Relationships You Should Read In 2020
One of Marie Claire’s 2020 Books You Should Add to Your Reading List
When a Nigerian woman falls for a man she knows will break her mother’s heart, she must choose between love and her family.
At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture, even after immigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping—well forcing—her to stay within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and…white.
When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother. Soon, Azere can’t help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter.
Buy Ties That Tether here.
Ties That Tether is largely told form the point of view of Azere, a 25-year-old Nigerian Canadian woman. We do see a few chapters from Raphael, her main love interest. Raphael is a 30-year-old Canadian man of Spanish descent. Before moving to Canada, Azere made a promise to her father on his deathbed that she would marry a Nigerian man in order to keep their culture intact. This is a promise her mother has held her up to.
This book is about so much: love, culture, and using your voice. Azere loves her family and she loves Raphael. Add in the complication (I don’t think it’s a spoiler as it happens so early on) of an unplanned pregnancy, and it’s evident that she cannot keep their relationship a secret. Azere fears giving up her culture completely and knows that her mother, who is intent on setting Azere up with her ex, will not approve. There are so many cons for pursuing a relationship with Raphael. Azere’s mother is very adamant about what she wants for her daughter, and it almost seems like a fine line between cultural norms and a toxic relationship. (I do not want to comment too much on this, as I am from a very different culture, but readers will know what I mean.)
I really loved the film references in this one. They were so fun. I liked that Azere was constantly comparing and contrasting the events in her life to romantic movies – everything from Disney to classics to rom coms to the most R-rated of romances. She truly is a romance junky and since I am too, I really appreciated this. The romance is super steamy, too.
I only had two discrepancies that stopped this book from being perfect. Number 1: There were scenes that were skipped over and then viewed as a memory that would have been more impactful and made more sense with exposition. For instance, it seems like things are going great between Azere and Raphael, and then she thinks to herself, “A few weeks ago he went on a business trip and was distant after.” I rather would have read a few chapters of her missing him on his trip and him coming back and acting a little off. Number 2: There were a few moments where I felt situations were more nuanced than the author portrayed. I would read a scene and get caught relating it to my own, far less complicated experiences, just to find even half of the emotions I felt in a vaguely relatable situation weren’t touched on. However, on both points, this was a quick, emotional yet fun read, and more detail would have taken away from the levity and brevity that make this book so enjoyable.
This book deals with some nuanced and tough topics and handles them all with grace. I will note some trigger warnings I haven’t mentioned in my review, and I absolutely want readers to know these events do not happen all at the same time and to the same characters: death of a spouse, loss of an unborn child, difficult childbirth.
If you couldn’t tell, I felt passionately about Ties That Tether. Though it wasn’t perfect, it was so enjoyable – 4 stars for me. My thanks to the author, publisher, and Edelweiss for giving me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Find out more about how I rate books here.
Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really liked this one! There were parts I felt could have had more detail and nuance to them, but as a whole it was a good story about love, culture, and using your voice.
Book Club Questions
- Explain the relationship dynamic between Azere and Raphael.
- What is Azere’s relationship like with her mother?