Book Review: Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

Ties That Tether

Author: Jane Igharo

Publication Date: 29 September 2020

Genre: Adult Fiction – Contemporary Romance

Pages: 336

Publisher: Berkley

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.

This book most definitely will not be for everyone. If you go into this story thinking that this is a light and fluffy rom-com, you will be sorely disappointed.

Azere emigrated from Nigeria to Canada when she was twelve years old, and she lives in constant fear of losing herself and her culture in Canada, which is exacerbated by her father’s last wish: to marry an Edo man. This means that Azere has endured countless dates orchestrated by her mother since becoming an obedient wife and bearing children is the highest honor she can achieve (mama’s words…not mine). Well, another one of those dates ends in flames, but Azere winds up meeting and having a one night stand with Rafael (who is white). What was supposed to be a one night thing turns into something much more than either Azere or Rafael anticipated.

There are so many different facets to this story, and I know I won’t be able to hit all of them, but there’s a few that I do want to focus on.

The entire discussion around the struggle that immigrants face due to the clash of one’s home culture versus the new culture they must assimilate to was eye-opening and raw. You can tell that Azere really grapples with trying preserve her Nigerian culture, but she also knows that Canada is her home and world as well. There’s this entire examination of the push pull between old world and new that I think Igharo nails.

I loved both Azere’s and Rafael’s characters. Both of them are incredibly passionate, fierce, and loyal to their families and customs. As someone who is biracial and in an interracial marriage, I 100% related to all of the struggles and complexities that Azere and Rafael face when you have people from different cultures coming together in a relationship. Azere doesn’t want her Nigerian heritage forgotten and Rafael’s Spanish customs are incredibly important to him as well. The author does a fantastic job of showing the struggles and complicated communications that couples face when you ultimately have to address compromising heritage and customs in favor of love and happiness.

I just can’t recommend this book enough!

Thank you to Berkley for providing a review copy through NetGalley. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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