Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo
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 emigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping–forcing–her to stay well 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 growing feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother who will never accept a relationship that threatens to dilute Azere’s Nigerian heritage.
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.
Culture is important. Preserving it, even more important.
Ties That Tether is Jane Igharo’s debut novel, and I am looking forward to reading more from her. Her sophomore novel, The Sweetest Remedy, is supposed to be published in September.
I think that Ties That Tether will go down as one of the most memorable romances I have ever read. There is so much going on in this book that it feels like the romance is secondary to Azere finding her voice and trying to preserve her culture while embracing what truly makes her happy. It is certainly a journey, and there were moments where I questioned her decisions, but I have never been in her position and I cannot imagine the pressure that she feels. She promised her father on his death bed that she would marry a Nigerian man, so falling for a white man very much disrupts her life. The focus on family in Ties That Tether is what stood out to me. It is easy to as the writer to dismiss Azere’s mother and to think that she is awful, but, once again, I am a white woman born and raised in Canada. I don’t know what it is like to immigrate to this country and to feel like you are losing a part of your identity. I didn’t go into Ties That Tether thinking that it would give me so much to think about, but it has.
I always appreciate getting both perspectives in my romances, and while the book is primarily told from Azere’s POV, we do get a few chapters narrated by Rafael. I felt that his voice was stilted in the beginning, but he did slowly open up. Rafael has had a traumatic past, which is hinted at throughout the novel, and he keeps this a secret from Azere. I can understand why it is something he wouldn’t want to talk about, but if you are someone who dislikes the miscommunication trope in romance, know that this book has quite a bit of it. There were times where I was screaming “Just talk to one another!”, but again, I understand why the were both fearful.
One thing that bothered me was the way that Azere treated her best friend, Christina. She was often downright cruel to her, and I didn’t understand why Christina put up with it. It also seemed so out of Azere’s character, so I struggled with that relationship.
Overall, I am glad that I read Ties That Tether. It hooked me from the first chapter and I finished it in less than 24 hours. It is one of those romances that would work really well as a movie- I could picture it so perfectly in my mind!
- Characters: 6
- Atmosphere/Setting: 7
- Writing Style: 7
- Plot: 7
- Intrigue: 8
- Logic/Relationships: 7
- Enjoyment: 8
Overall CAWPILE score: 50/7=7.1