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.
First, I want to say how beautiful this cover is. I love the vibrant colors, the representation through skin tone and hairstyle, and the mirror image of the guy through the glasses. When I first saw it, I was immediately like I’m reading that!
Second, I stayed up all night just so I could read this book. Then I immediately fan-girled and wrote a Tweet to the author to tell her just how much I loved it. In Ties That Tether, you get to see parts of the Nigerian culture through words, phrases, and traditions in comparison to the character’s (and author’s) experience as an immigrant in Canada. You get to see the holds that family has over your life and how you might end up with someone you don’t love just because you want to please your parents.
I’m not Nigerian but I really related to this character. All my life my parents have stressed the importance of dating within my own race and how we’ve got to ‘stick together’. I dated a few white and light skins when I was younger and was immediately labeled the daughter who would Most Likely Go White. You should’ve seen their faces when they found out that Tony, my partner and (of course) soulmate, is black.
It also goes along with how you can’t judge someone by the culture they were raised in. It’s hard to tell who is racist, who is a pushover, and who is truly willing to stay and put up with your family because they love you – when you are only looking at their ethnic background. The struggle the main character goes through to listen to her heart or the generations of ancestors is visceral and shows on the page. It might make you agree to anything – as we see over and over.
That being said, I wanted to slap this main character up the head a few times (which I’m sure she might’ve gotten from a parental figure a few times). Girl, get it together! Might I also mention how important it is to show healthy girl-friend relationships!? Everyone needs someone in their corner (even me…I need friends, ahora) and I love how more and more these days you are seeing secondary characters who are more than just a device thrown in to further the plot. Also, I think I’d like to see a sequel with her best friend as a main character and finding love!
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I’m so glad that I read it. I felt like it was the first romance in a long time that didn’t make me roll my eyes or frustrate the hell out of me – which is saying a lot. Y’all know how I love my mushy stories.
If I had a star system, I’d give this book 4 stars! Thank you Jane Igharo for introducing us to the culture with an experience that is relatable and honest.