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Ties That Tether

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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.

306 pages, Paperback

First published September 29, 2020

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Jane Igharo

4 books698 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,907 reviews
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews109k followers
February 5, 2021
I’ve been having a tough mental health week so reading this book was a welcome reprieve: it had the right balance of serious topics (cultural clashes between interracial relationships and immigrant families) while still being romantic and fluffy (the love interest cares for the main character so much!) I enjoyed seeing the protagonist’s journey grappling with honoring her culture while wanting to forge her own path, as well as all the details of her family’s culture (I love the scenes where the love interest discovers Nigerian food because I got to learn about it too). I think her fear about losing her identity was interesting to explore, as I have typically only read books where the characters either wholeheartedly embrace their identity or don’t feel any part of it at all — it’s nice to see someone stuck in the middle and figuring out how to mesh their two sides together. People often view like they have to choose one or the other when that is not the case.

The main issue that I had with this book was how rushed the relationship was. Though I enjoyed the escapism of the protagonist and her love interest having a sweet love story together, everything was happening WAY too fast. Their interactions did not show much depth beyond a one night stand for them to be in a deep, long-lasting relationship that would make her question throwing away her culture and family. Their relationship escalated way too quickly that they didn’t have enough time to build a solid foundation. As a testament to the wonky timeline, there was even a montage of three whole months passing for what’s supposed to be pivotal moments during their relationship. I wish we had seen more of a long-term relationship where they’ve had deep, meaningful connections with each other so that the angst between her relationship VS her culture had more stake in it. The writing also did a lot of telling and not showing, like the three-month montage and the protagonist constantly explaining romance movie references, which often felt forced.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,067 reviews38.1k followers
August 30, 2021
This is a promising debut and I’m really happy to have a chance to read it because learning more about different cultures, their traditions, approaches, perspectives turned me into a excited child who is happy to discover new, colorful worlds and appreciates the knowledge is power.

Most of our ancestors have migrated from other countries and sometimes respecting your ancestors’ wishes and protecting your cultural identity might be one of the most challenging thing to achieve because when you adjust to your new environment, your efforts may be resulted with cultural degeneration. There are two risky solutions of this adaptation problem: you may lose the native identity completely and forget where you come from or you turned into someone without identity because you cannot adjust to both of the cultures. You’re just stuck in the middle of them.

This book gave impressive and educational approach to this sensitive topic:

The plot idea was also emotional, thought provoking and moving about young Nigerian woman, Azere wants to obey dying father’s last wish: she will preserve her cultural identity and marry with a Nigerian man. But when her one night stand with a white man turned into a intimate, meaningful relationship, she is stuck in a big dilemma: should she do what she’s told and respect her family’s wishes to marry with a man from her own culture or should she listen to her heart and choose her own path of happiness with Rafael.

It was entertaining, enjoyable romcom and both protagonists were thankfully likable. Their chemistry was hot, sizzling. Only the last quarter of the book a little disappointed me with regular cliches about hero and his big secret which ruined the lovers’ bright future kind of angsty parts. I found it a little unnecessary. But at least conclusion of couple’s lives story saved the day.

Because of the exaggerated angst parts I cut one of my stars. So I’m giving four identity, multicultural interest, powerful, promising, creative four stars! I’m looking forward to read new works of the author.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for sharing this moving ARC with me in exchange my honest opinions and introducing me a brilliant debut author.
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,014 reviews12.8k followers
October 11, 2020
2.5 stars. Trigger warning for surprise pregnancy, loss of a child, loss of a loved one, and traumatic childbirth.

**I would like to clarify that these triggers do not happen to the same people and do not happen at the same time. People are assuming these happen all at the end and that I am spoiling the ending. This is not spoiling the ending. Certain people in here discuss death of a loved one and death of a child. That is why there is that trigger. I also think that it's important that people know that this entire book revolves around a surprise pregnancy as it happens 5% into the book. That is a very triggering topic in itself and I do not read surprise pregnancy books, so I would have liked to know that this book dealt with surprise pregnancies the entire time before picking it up. That's not a trigger for me personally, just a preference. Hiding a trope used in the ENTIRE book does not help people when they read reviews to see if they will like a book or not.**

I want to start out with saying I was so excited to read this book. The cover is gorgeous and this book sounded so good with the main character falling for a man that was not Nigerian when she promised her deceased father she would marry a Nigerian man. Unfortunately, when I started this book, I was really not enjoying the writing style. The dialogue felt very forced and cliche and there were FAR too many movie references. Rom coms are our main character's "thing," but she goes on to reference at least ten movies and follow that reference up with an entire paragraph summarizing the movie or scene she was reminded of. This got to be too much, and, while I love movies and knew every single movie she referenced, I just didn't care and it took me out of the story each time.

On to the actual plot. This book deals with surprise pregnancy, which is my least favorite trope. While this is definitely a me problem, I wish the synopsis mentioned this because I wouldn't have even picked the book up. I honestly would have DNFd this book at that point if I weren't reading this for review. There is a love triangle between Azere and two guys, a Nigerian guy she has a past with that her mother picked and this other guy she had a one-night stand with. I didn't really feel any of the connection or past to the guy she had a history with and I didn't feel the chemistry that much with the other guy she had hooked up with. None of the romance really did it for me. It also felt like a lot started in this book and then just stopped or wasn't fleshed out enough. I feel like we still don't know these characters, who they are, or what they like other than the main conflict of the story. It was just missing that real-life authenticity to the characters.

I will say, I did appreciate the important discussion about dating someone that is not of your same ethnicity and how cultures can or cannot come together in a relationship. Azere has a lot of guilt over not staying completely loyal to her Nigerian roots and disappointing her family's expectations. However, the story itself, the writing, and the romance just did not mesh with me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,170 reviews25.4k followers
May 28, 2021
3.5 stars
There were some aspects of this book I really enjoyed and some I didn’t care so much for. I loved following Azere, and seeing her struggle with wanting to be with Rafael but fearing disappointing her family because they want her to be with a Nigerian man. The whole conversation about respecting your culture, but also wanting to be in control of your own life and have the freedom to make your own decisions was really interesting. That was easily my favorite aspect of this story.

However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the actual romance. I really liked the characters, but the romance itself was pretty forgettable for me. And it felt really rushed and like everything was happening really fast.

Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
1,999 reviews15.7k followers
January 27, 2021
Loved IT! Jane Igharo’s debut is one of my favorite reads of 2020. this is the story of Azere, who immigrated to Canada from Nigeria as a child. she is constantly feeling the pole between her Nigerian culture and emvracing her new Canadian home. she made a promise to her father on his deathbed that she would Mary a Nigerian man. A promise that her mother reminds her of on a regular basis. when Azere meets Rafael she is instantly drawn to him even though he is definitely not Nigerian. A one night fling can’t hurt, right? Well it looks as though the fates have other plans.

This book was the perfect blend of romcom humor and family drama. Azere was such a great character and I really felt for her. She really was so torn between two worlds. Rafael was a great guy who really tried to be supportive and understanding. I had a hard time with Azere‘s mother. I really could not understand her actions, although I did try to remember that she is from a different culture than me. there were also quite a few pop culture references woven throughout the story that I loved. A fun Romance with a lot of heart.

*** Big thank you to Berkley for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***
Profile Image for Julie .
3,990 reviews58.9k followers
February 22, 2021
Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo is a 2020 Berkley publication.

A Pleasant Romantic debut!

Azere promised her father, she would marry a Nigerian man, and continue observing her native culture, even after emigrating to Canada. After her father’s death, Azere stays in line, obeying her overbearing mother and fully intends to keep her promise.

Unfortunately, all the men her mother introduces her to are controlling, misogynist jerks. After yet another failed connection, Azere meets Raphael in a bar. For Azere, their night together was a one and done deal- but fate has other plans…

Raphael and Azere discover they are colleagues and are assigned to work together. Raphael is interested in seeing where the relationship might take them, but he is white, meaning if Azere and Raphael were to make it long term, she would be breaking the promise she made to her father.

If that weren’t awkward enough, a stunning development further complicates matters, forcing Azere to make one of the toughest decisions of her life. Will she cave to her mother’s wishes or choose true love?

I love multi-cultural romance! This contemporary novel explores the pressures and obligations of family, and how difficult it can be to avoid those demands, even when your true heart isn’t in it. The challenges of blending cultures, the fears of one being swallowed up by the other are very valid and realistic.

The book has a few issues- most of which I think can be attributed to this being a debut. I think once this author gains a bit of experience, her stories will flow easier, and there will be less inner monologue and more dialogue, allowing the characters to develop more fully.

Despite the obvious nerves, the story is absorbing, and I was invested enough to want to see how things turned out. The angst and occasional overly dramatic passages are balanced with some very tender and emotional moments that warms the heart.


The glimpse into the future is also a nice touch, and although I absolutely loathe trends, I wouldn’t mind seeing more romance novels include a glimpse into the future to prove what HEA means realistically.


Overall, this was an enjoyable romance. I see some promise with this author and look forward to reading her next book.
Profile Image for Jite.
979 reviews55 followers
September 27, 2020
This is an interesting romantic debut from a Nigerian-Canadian author. Being Nigerian myself, and a lover of Nigerian romance, this seemed like it would be an excellent match for me. I’ve read this with mixed emotions, the summary of which is that on the balance of things, I think it’s alright and I appreciate the story the author wanted to tell and really respected the own voices nature of that story about culture and love and assimilation and the fear of losing your heritage and disappointing your generations.

Starting with the positives, this story is undoubtedly own voices- the author captured the nuances of a common Nigerian experience especially for Nigerian immigrants growing up in the disapora, but this experience is even applicable locally. I read book with similar themes recently that was very well-written but that WASN’T own voices and reading this book, I can tell that the author understands this cultural experience and expectation because of her sympathy with Azere. I love that the author approached this theme and the relationship between Nigerian mothers and daughters which can be filled with such sacrificial care but also fraught with manipulation and misunderstanding and pressure. I love the moment in the book where Azere and her mother talk about conditional love because I feel like this is such an important theme in Nigerian parent-child relationships. This book made me think about the inherent societal pressures there are on parents for their children to conform to inherited culture and not “bring shame to the family” and how that pressure is inherited by kids to know that the weight of their parents’, community’s and ancestor’s expectations are on them. I definitely related to Azere’s desire to suppress things and pretend that everything was fine. I think this was strongest in the selected theme and for the most part, the plot.

Where this struggled a bit for me was in the execution. The protagonists didn’t feel full-bodied to me- Azere came across as immature because we never really got to know her and what she wanted as a character and who she really was outside of being her mother’s daughter, Rafael’s reluctant lover, Efe’s sister, Christina’s friend. I didn’t know what her dreams were, what she wanted from life, whether she liked her job, how she felt about her society etc. What little we saw of what kind of friend and sister she was didn’t really sell her as a character to root for. We didn’t know her as a human outside the major conflict of this novel. Rafael was also to me a bit of a shell- we didn’t know much about him either except that he was in love with Azere at first sight but not quite why? Even when he made his big declaration at the disastrous family dinner, it seemed out of left field as cute and delightfully awwwwww-some as it was, it felt a little hollow because we didn’t know him as a character- what does he like outside of Azere, who is he as a person, what did he feel about being in a multicultural relationship, what was his reaction to the pushback from Azere’s family. I felt the character development was a little surface-y. And I think as a reader, knowing the character’s better would have made this a stronger read than it was. As it was, I still enjoyed reading this story, I just think this aspect could have been stronger.

I frequently found the way the story was revealed a little clunky. The dialogue to me, wasn’t always realistic and the plot felt a little jumpy and not seamless and I think part of this might be teething issues with this being the author’s first book and also with the author writing a romance that she wanted to appeal to both own voices readers and a mass foreign audience. I wish the author hadn’t always felt the need to explain everything but had just let the book rest on what she wrote- for example, every element of Nigerian culture or sayings explained in great detail, every reference to a Nigerian cultural icon (like Tiwa Savage, Patience Ozokwor, Simi etc) explained in great detail, rom-com movie references being given mini-analyses/recaps... it just felt a little too much. I’ve read many books even romances with cultural references that I didn’t know and if I was interested, I Googled to learn, and if I wasn’t interested, I kept it moving. The needing to “glossarize” every reference often pulled me out of the plot and it skewed this book for me into not really being for readers with romantically-underrepresented cultural experiences but a book for “Westerners” to have an insight into an aspect of Nigerian culture.

The other issue I experienced with this is something I sometimes see in interracial romances where in order to justify the relationship with the white character, the “ethnic” protagonist must always somehow drag every relationship they’ve had with dating someone from their culture. It’s like “well I’ve tried dating people from my culture/race and they were toxic messes and so that justifies me dating this person from a different race.” These sorts of implied or overt narratives really irk me. After all, is it because of their race that this new love interest is good/respectful/kind or is it because they are who they are. This book portrayed “dateable” Nigerian men in a certain light and whilst I don’t disagree that there’s a concerning proliferation of Nigerian f-boys, I think this aspect of the book was a little clunkily-expressed and fell a bit into that trap interracial romances sometimes do.

All in all, I think this is a good story, a very recognizable story to many people who struggle to find a balance and hold on to their culture and heritage in the middle of that space between the inevitability of cultural assimilation and the fear of loss and separation from heritage that breeds cultural fundamentalism. I appreciate the author trying to bring it into mainstream romance. I appreciate her for showing that love can win and culture doesn’t have to be sacrificed. The execution wasn’t my favourite but this was a debut and the author wrote a book that was interesting enough that I didn’t put it down till I finished once I started.

Many thanks to Berkley Publishing for gifting me this free book!
Profile Image for Brandice.
798 reviews
February 13, 2021
In Ties That Tether, Azere promised her father, on his deathbed, she would marry a Nigerian man someday, even after leaving Nigeria and moving to Canada. Her mother has meddled in every way possible for years, trying to ensure this promise is fulfilled.

Azere finds herself in a bar following another bad date initiated by her mom. There she meets Rafael, a handsome guy in town for a job interview. She has a great time with him but doesn’t keep in touch until he shows up at her job a few weeks later as the company’s newest hire!

Azere attempts to navigate her growing feelings for Rafael as their relationship evolves, while being forced to choose between her heart and her rigid mom, who refuses to accept Rafael as he’s not Nigerian.

I really enjoyed Ties That Tether and liked Azere a lot. Her love of romantic movies was a fun element to the story. I liked Rafael too, but loathed Azere’s mom. I know there are really people like her who sadly miss out on the joys of life by being stuck in outdated mindsets, but recognize she also came from a different place. Despite greatly disliking Azere’s mom, this was a fun book and I appreciate the modern era of balancing different cultures.
Profile Image for Book of the Month.
229 reviews12.5k followers
Read
October 1, 2020
Why I love it
by Helen Hoang

As a second-generation Vietnamese-American, I heard my mom’s “coming to America” stories countless times while growing up, but they never grew boring. I always wanted to know more. What was it like adjusting to a new country and new culture? What was it like entering an interracial relationship with my dad? Ties That Tether offers a revelatory glimpse into this type of immigrant experience—from a Nigerian perspective.

After immigrating to Canada, Azere is under pressure from her family to marry a good Nigerian man and preserve her culture. But when her mother’s latest matchmaking attempt results in another poor fit, Azere rebels and finds herself in bed with a handsome stranger who also happens to be white. As their relationship grows unexpectedly serious, she’s forced to confront her family and their expectations while navigating her own concept of cultural identity.

A Nigerian-Canadian herself, Igharo writes her Nigerian characters with such love and vivid personality that it was impossible for me not to connect with them, especially Azere’s stubborn mother. I think Azere’s struggle to find her own voice amidst the conflicting pressures of family expectations and society makes this a particularly heart-touching read, one that will resonate with most people.

Read more at: https://bookofthemonth.com/ties-that-...
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,849 reviews34.9k followers
December 18, 2020
“I wasn’t on a date. I was being interviewed for the position of dutiful Edo wife by a man who couldn’t chew with his mouth closed”.

Azere ( pronounced A-zay-ray), knew how to cook Edo food. She learned when she was a kid— back in Nigeria.
She and her family moved to Canada when she was twelve. Azere was twenty-five now—so that was a long time ago.
She was a creative director at an advertising agency.
Her date was impressed with her job, but said....”you would quit once you had a family to take care of, right?”
Azere chuckled, amused....
and was stunned by his idiocy.....she absolutely would not.

Richard preferred his women to be submissive—she, preferred that her men weren’t “chauvinistic pricks with the brain and table manners of a caveman”.
Azere quickly ended the dinner date… And said, “Goodbye Richard”.

After Azere’s crappy date, ( set up by her mother—who was on the prowl looking for husband material for her daughter), she went to grab a drink in the bar and meets Rafael.

Rafael was staying in the hotel. He came from New York for a job interview. If the interview went well, he’d be moving to back to Toronto, where he used to live with his family before he moved to New York.

And for one night, Azere was not the obedient daughter of a conservative mother who was adamant on preserving her Nigerian heritage. Nor was she the daughter of a patriotic father who feared his families departure to a foreign country more than the cancer that was killing him.
Up in Rafael’s Hotel room, Azere was driven by her own desires and impulses than any consequences that might follow. Her one night stand!

Rafael Castellano.... walks into a morning staff meeting at Xander’s Northern America’s top advertising agency....(a month after Azere’s one night rendezvous with him), where she works.
“Everyone, meet our new
Marketing director”.

Much more happens so this is the time to stop sharing anymore about the plot.... it doesn’t always move in the direction the reader thinks it will.
But....
it’s a very enjoyable novel... dealing with immigration, choices, and family desires, that differ from ones own.
A little drama, a few secrets,
and characters that are easy to cherish.

“Immigrants chase success differently because we have something to prove to the people we left behind and to the people who note our differences—our accent, our appearance, our religion, our culture—every day”.

“Whenever I tell people I grew up in a village in Africa, they imagine mud huts and a safari in my backyard. They imagine a society stricken with poverty and disease and incomprehensible people”.
“The truth is, my village was far from being a metropolis. Sure, it was quiet, rural, and simple. But our ancient customs and a simplicity of our lifestyle didn’t make us uncivilized. We were a community of teachers and doctors and farmers and vivacious market women whose sharp wits and quick tongues could easily rival many university graduates. My mother was one of those women”.

Meeting Azere- her family, and everyone else in her life—was a wonderful diversion - warmth & joy -
against the worry I have for California with our total hospital capacity being at 3%.

....Wishing people a VERY SAFE CHRISTMAS.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,440 reviews29.4k followers
November 17, 2020
Does love always have to require sacrifices and hard choices? Jane Igharo analyzes that question in her great debut novel, Ties That Tether .

When Azere was 12, her father died, and she moved with her mother and sister from Nigeria to Canada. Just before he died, she promised her father she’d marry a Nigerian man and preserve their culture.

Since then, she’s been dutiful about keeping that promise, even as her mother becomes more domineering and essentially forces her to go on dates with eligible men. And after one such date ends badly, she goes to nurse her wounds at a hotel bar, and winds up meeting Rafael, who is handsome, intelligent, sexy...and not Nigerian.

After their passionate one-night stand, she never plans to see him again, but fate has other ideas. Neither can get the other out of their mind. But when complications ensue, Azere must decide which is more important—following her heart or obeying her mother and keeping a promise she made when she was too young to know better.

This was a really good story, with rom-com elements and a tiny bit of steam, but it’s also a powerful exploration of the issues faced by those in biracial or bicultural relationships. There’s also a healthy dose of drama and family dysfunction, which I’m always there for.

I definitely enjoyed this one, and was hooked from start to finish. I'll admit I found one or two of the characters irritating but I'm sure that their behavior was realistic to situations like these. (And by the way, how gorgeous is the cover of this book?)

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2019 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2019.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Henrietta.
88 reviews21 followers
September 27, 2022
4.75⭐️ (my first weird star number) 😂😂😂
Y’all !! This book is one of the most refreshing things I’ve read in a while . Give me romance , give me spice, give me a bit of drama, give me flawed characters and give me a resolution and justice . This book gave and gave and gave.
Rafael was the such a gentleman and a great lover , a romantic (that’s saying something because a certain someone I know says I think romance is dead 🙄) well well well he was really goooood. And even though I think he could have handled his trauma better I’m really not one to judge how people carry pain but I really dislike miscommunication tropes. And that’s where I think Azere should have worked earlier with him to sort things out
I do love Azere’s character. One thing I wasn’t so happy about was the cause of the bad blood between she and her old flame ; Elijah ; something else as a cause would have been less petty for me.
And oh myyy Azere’s mom was the worst !
Very hypocritical, I kept rolling my eyes at her. Who on earth makes a 12 year old girl make such an outrageous promise and then hang it over their heads ??? That’s why even though her dad was dead the whole time he was annoying me
I loved Azere’s sister and her friend; Chris. (I suck at remembering names)
As for her uncle I couldn’t quite place him whether he was good people or bad people lol.

Will I recommend this ? Absolutely!
For a debut ; my hat has been tipped right off for the author ! They did a great job and that ending they gave me ! Wow so satisfying. That’s what I call justice.
Profile Image for Maria.
469 reviews309 followers
March 17, 2021
I’m in love with this book! The only thing I can honestly compare it to is Beach Read - these two books are not your average romance but Ties that Tether is my favourite of the two)!

I love that this takes place in Toronto, I loved the characters, and the wild ride it takes you on. From holding on to your culture to making comprises that aren’t fair, this book was so real and heartbreaking all at once.

One of my favourites of 2020! :)
Profile Image for Lily Herman.
543 reviews555 followers
December 18, 2020
Okay, um, I can't get into this review until we acknowledge how RIDICULOUSLY GORGEOUS this cover is. Oh? My? God? It's one of my favorites of 2020, hands down.

Jane Igharo's Ties That Tether is a wonderful debut with a powerful underlying message about trying to figure out who you are when straddling completely different cultures that can, at the surface, seem totally incompatible. I rooted for Azere almost immediately (and not just because she's a huge rom-com fan like moi), and Rafael was a charming AF love interest.

Some of the dialogue was a little awkward at times and a few key moments were glazed over a tad quicker than I would've liked, but overall, this novel offered something different and much-needed in a genre that continues to expand its #ownvoices offerings and provide different perspectives. It's around 3.5 stars for me.

I'm INCREDIBLY excited to see what else Janne Igharo has up her sleeve—she's one to watch.

Content warning: Discussions about death of loved ones
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,778 reviews4,485 followers
March 2, 2021
This is such a difficult novel to review because it's tricky to dive into without giving spoilers. Plus there are a number of trigger warnings which I'm going to contain within spoilers brackets. 2.5 Stars CW: .

Ties That Tether has been getting quite a few mixed reviews; however, it's a book that I wanted to explore and read for myself. I was interested in the presentation of an interracial relationship where both families were very set on maintaining their cultural values. Igharo did an excellent job at tackling this when the main character, Azere, ends up with a white man. A lot of individuals deal with the idea of maintaining familial expectations in all aspects of their life including romantic relationships. I've never personally had that experience; however, I empathize with anyone who feels stuck in honoring family and following your heart. I can't begin to imagine how difficult that is and I experienced that first hand in Azere's character development. She has the beautiful admiration and respect for her father; however, part of her knows that she may not be able to live up to the expectations of having to marry an Edo man. The narrative around this was great, well-developed.

However, the amount of drama and the driving force behind a great portion of this book did not work for me. It was overdone in a way that's hard to explain and it detracted from the romantic elements of the book. In fact, like many reviewers have stated before me, THERE WAS NO CHEMISTRY between Azere and Rafael. It felt like two friends attempting to navigate their circumstance and experience rather than two romantic partners trying to make it work. There were moments that were cringe worthy for me especially on Rafael's end. I feel like he had a double standard in some aspects of their communication. Then Igharo adds in a love triangle to the story and I WAS NOT HERE FOR IT. Half the time that I read the role of the other character I rolled my eyes or kept questioning why his appearance was even necessary to the story. I'm not sure if it was meant to bring Azere to a moment of clarity regarding her relationship with Rafael, but since I felt as though those two had no chemistry it came off as poorly executed. There is also a scene that I won't go into because it is a spoiler; however, it wasn't a great moment for me as a reader and whether my feelings were right or wrong, I kept questioning why it was added to the book. It could be because I, myself, have experienced that trauma. Regardless, I don't think that a lot of these moments were executed well.

I know it's hard to even understand why I would give this book 2.5 stars if I felt that way, but it wasn’t a horrible book all around. I think that Igharo excelled in some areas and failed in others. The exploration of the blending of cultures was phenomenal and it was great to see that incorporation to the framework of what was intended to be a romantic story; however, I think that it just needed a little more reworking. I'm still interested in seeing what else the author is going to release in the future. I just don't think that this book in particular was for me as a reader.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,379 reviews518 followers
September 5, 2021
[2.5]. Started out fizzy and sweet but soon became flat and syrupy.
Profile Image for Christi (christireadsalot).
1,571 reviews372 followers
October 11, 2020
Ties That Tether is a debut book about Azere, a Nigerian woman who at 12-years-old promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man even after emigrating to Canada. So from the blurb/synopsis this is a story of preserving your culture, attempting to abide by your family’s wishes and the balance of also finding your own happiness in life. Instead this story takes a turn very early on that the entire plot centers around and becomes the actual story. After her mom’s latest matchmaking fails, Azere rebels and finds herself falling into bed with a handsome stranger who happens to be white. Things get complicated from there and Azere tries to figure out the possibility of a relationship with him while her mom is still trying to set her up with other men. This one took me a while to get through because I was not enjoying it and honestly didn’t even want to finish it, but I did and can now share my thoughts.

Didn’t like: what became the center plot of the story (being purposefully vague to avoid spoilers), the writing style/dialogue, how the characters use each other’s names in every single sentence (I know this seems odd to mention but honestly who talks like this in real life?!), the romance was very insta-lovey and a lot of telling not showing chemistry, and I lost count of how many times the main character references popular romcom movies and describes scenes in detail of how it relates to her current situation/conversation.

Liked: an own voices author, the cover is gorgeous, the conversation about dating someone outside your own culture, the narrative on living up to family’s expectations vs your own happiness.
Profile Image for Oyinda.
648 reviews144 followers
January 6, 2021
2.5 stars rounded up!

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one, tbh. This was a book I went into with a lot of expectation and hope. I've been wanting to read this for months. Like a lot of my anticipated reads, I saw this first on Netgalley and it was so enticing. I waited till it was available on audio, and I listened to it immediately, dumping my current read at the time. It was, to put it lightly, disappointing. I'll discuss what I liked and what I didn't in this review.

What I Liked
- The Romance: The romance in this book was so well-written, and I enjoyed reading how Azere and Rafael's relationship advanced.
- The Love Interest, Rafael: One of my two fave characters in this book is Rafael, and I really enjoyed his antics.
- Efe: Efe, Azere's sister, is my other favorite character. I liked her very much and would have preferred her as the main character, because she seems more mature.
- The first-gen immigrant experience: I love that so many parts of this book chronicled the main character's experience as a first gen immigrant, her struggles, triumphs, and life.
- The male narrator: The male narrator was so so good, his voice was like butter.
- The female narrator (some parts): I have a love-hate relationship with the female narrator of this book, and I hated and loved her narration. I loved how she conveyed the emotions of the characters, and the giggles and laughter she added to the narration.
- The ending: Ohhhh, the ending really salvaged the book for me. I really love how the book wrapped up.

What I Didn't Like
- The main character: Azere really annoyed me in this book, and I had a problem with so many aspects of her character. Sometimes, she just didn't add up to me. She was also very immature sometimes. The purity culture was disgusting, and it annoyed me to no end. If you write a main character that is sexually liberated enough to have a one-night stand, why does she keep going on and on about the man that "took" her virginity. It made me sad because it's a harmful notion. They had sex, EOD. No man takes anything from a woman when they have consensual sex! The amount of times I heard phrases relating to "took my virginity" made me want to fling my phone.
- Her mother: Her mother was another annoying character, and the least likeable in the entire book!!! She was such a stereotypical caricature of the "African mother" and had no redeeming qualities. She was unnecessarily hard on Azere over a promise she made when she was 12! She was also very hypocritical!!!
- Info dumps on Nigerian culture: There were too many info dumps in this book, and the author kept explaining the smallest things about Nigerian and Edo culture. I understand trying to explain things to the Non-Nigerian readers, but it was too much and at some points this book was more of "An Introduction to Nigerian Phenomena" rather than a book that should have been in a way unapologetically Nigerian.
- The female narrator (some parts): While I enjoyed a lot about the female narrator, I hated how she depicted Azere's mother, and the use that Nigerian accent that Nigerian Americans use to imitate us (picture Yvonne Orji). It was disconcerting and came off as mockery, took whatever intention the author had with those parts and muddled it up.

This was entertaining, and I can see why it's gotten a lot of stellar reviews. However, it could have been much better, as it had potential to be something more.
Profile Image for Amanda Hupe.
953 reviews53 followers
September 27, 2020
Thank you, NetGalley, Berkley Publishing Group, and Jane Igharo for the opportunity to read this book!

Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo started off as a cover request. I mean, come on, just look at this stunning cover! No one could pass on it. Well, there is an added bonus…the story is also stunning. Azere moved to Canada from Nigeria at the age of 12. Before her father died, she promised him that she would marry a Nigerian man to preserve her culture. She has always been a good daughter, but she is getting a little tired of the constant line of dates that her mother is setting her up with. One night, after a particularly disastrous interview date, she meets a man at the bar. Rafael is in town for a job interview and he is captivated by Azere. After a night of passion, Azere is determined to put it behind her and focus on pleasing her mother. That is until Rafael is the new hire at her work…

I read this book in ONE night. I laughed, I cried, and I swooned. I was completely captured by this story from page one. Azere is intelligent and gorgeous inside and out. I love her devotion to her family and culture and also the devotion to herself. She is determined to be the best in her career and also follows her heart.

“The truth, my village was far from being a metropolis. Sure. It was quiet, rural, and simple. But our ancient customs and the simplicity of our lifestyle didn’t make us uncivilized. We were a community of teachers and doctors and farmers and vivacious marketwomen whose sharp wits and quick tongues could easily rival many university graduates. My mother was one of these women.”

TIES THAT TETHER
The most painful and yet beautiful part of this book is the mother/daughter relationship. There is one scene where Azere misses her mom so fiercely that it made me cry. Mother/Daughter relationships are so complicated as it is, but theirs is so much deeper. It is not just about the love for each other but preserving a part of themselves that the white world often tries to erase. This puts such a heavy burden on both Azere and her mother. I cannot recommend this book enough. It hits shelves on September 29th so be sure to grab your copy! I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars!
Profile Image for ABookwormWithWine.
1,347 reviews484 followers
March 9, 2021
4.5/5

Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo is such a fun, hilarious, and heart-warming debut and I never wanted it to tend. Igharo wrote not only a romance but a relatable and informative one at that. I love learning more about different cultures and it was interesting to get another look into Nigerian culture after reading The Girl with the Louding Voice which of course, is a very different type of book from this one. Azere was a wonderfully strong and funny female character and I loved her. I really enjoyed the mix of her viewpoint along with Rafael's and I really liked the fact that the book is told mainly from her POV with just a few of Rafael's mixed in. I could not understand her mother, but I tried to keep in mind that the Nigerian culture is very different from my own.

I loved the mix of family drama and romance, and there are serious topics while still being a laugh-out-loud-funny novel. Ties That Tether really hit the romcom spot for me, and also gave me the mother/daughter relationship that I love the exploration of in books. Azere and her mom have a pretty complicated relationship at times, and I feel like that is very reminiscent of the real world. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Nkeki Obi-Melekwe & Gary Tiedemann and I loved it so much that I would highly recommend that route if you like audio. It was a very quick listen and the narrators really brought the book to life for me. If you want a romcom with a lot of heart and relatable moments you should definitely check this debut out.
Profile Image for Precious ✨.
438 reviews58 followers
October 7, 2020
I have nothing.
Nothing could have been changed.
Nothing could have enhanced this story more.
Nothing could be better.
Nothing can change my mind.
Perfection.🖤

--------

So two months later and this book is still leaving me a bit tongue tied.
Ties That Tether was such a fantastic read, that I devoured. I felt for both of the main characters. Over the course of it's 300 sum pages it gets into identity, loss, traditions, love, and the gilded cages that can come from each.

That's how I pictured both Azere and Rafael. Two people who meet each other despite what holds them back separately.

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and I desperately wanted to rip it off every time it came in between them.

For Azere the blurb already lets us know about the promise she to her father when she was young, and the expectation her mother has on her, but sometime during the time you start this journey to its end we really get to see what kind of impact it has really had on shaping her life. She herself was still great and a romance movie addict. Absolutely adored her, even at times I thought about choking her out.
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The authenticity I found in here was wonderful and really brought out so many more facets by highlighting Azere's culture and at times Rafael's too. The colors, the sayings, the taste. The food omg, the food!
Also killer of Igharo to give us some slots of Rafael's POV too. Even if it wasn't 50/50 it was still enough to get what I needed, as well as break up narration and provide perspective we could only get from him. Gosh Rafael, I wear my heart on my sleeve for you.

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I am all for broken heroes. He was for the most part very understanding, thoughtful and communicative. However, with the things in his past he held onto those for far too long and I was happy to see him work through that.

Wonderful, heartfelt, binge worthy novel that will leave you in book hangover at the minimum.
Please treat yourself.

Thank you Berkley Publishing Group for an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.<3
Profile Image for Amber.
869 reviews69 followers
September 29, 2020
2.5 stars

Ties That Tether grabbed my attention because it promised a love story while balancing parental expectations. While Ties That Tether paid homage to romance by referencing romance movies, I struggled to place the genre.

Azere’s mother was deadset on marrying Azere off to a nice Edo man and Azere didn’t know how to live her life without disappointing her parents. I liked the discussions on struggling to keep your culture in a new country and the expectations parents can have, but the romance only served to move the plot. I never felt an emotional pull between Azere and Rafael; Rafael was smitten from the beginning and Azere found herself in a love triangle which I didn’t expect. Besides that, the dialogue often felt cheesy and forced. If Ties That Tether was a TV show, I’d watch it for the sheer amount of drama, but as a novel it was exhausting.

Despite my disappointment with the overall story, Igharo’s examination of the immigrant experience and the expectations placed on children was important.
Profile Image for Cortney Evans.
32 reviews18 followers
July 22, 2020
This book was absolutely beautiful! I loved it so so much! I enjoyed getting to know Azere and learn about her Nigerian culture. The Ties That Tether did an amazing job of bringing to light the beauty and the richness that comes from in an intercultural relationship. This book really made you question how well do you know yourself and what makes you, you? This book gets all the stars from me! A must read! I want to thank Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an advanced copy of this book!
November 25, 2020
1.5 stars 😕💥😟

I was so ready to love it, but I didn’t!

Ugh, my most anticipated romance release was disappointing. I didn’t enjoy this book very much.

All I can say is if you don’t like the surprise pregnancy trope, skip it. It’s not a spoiler at all. I was not aware of that before reading it because that was not mentioned in the synopsis. As a result, my reading experience was ruined. I just can’t with that trope. CATFISH!🐠

The romance was terrible, cringeworthy, and tasteless. Rafael did not have a personality, so bland, yet so unbelievably, eye-rolling-ly perfect. No build up to it at all. I just did not care about their couple.

Plus, at one point, she compares the situation where she meets his family to a scene in Fifty Shades of Gray and I 🤮.

Azere was a special snowflake and every male character wants to bang her. Her sister was so much more fleshed out and interesting. Kinda wish she was the protagonist in her place.

*There was misuse of a Spanish word: Rafael keeps calling Azere "cariño" when it should be "cariña" instead (Azere is feminine, so the word should be).
Profile Image for Scottsdale Public Library.
3,151 reviews191 followers
Read
August 31, 2022
While the gorgeous cover art is what initially drew me in, the story kept me turning pages! Azere, a Nigerian-Canadian, made a promise to her dying father that she would marry a Nigerian man. Set-up after set-up goes wrong, though, and when she takes refuge after a bad date with Rafael, she finds herself questioning her cultural identity and what she owes her family. I loved this multicultural romance and the complex relationship between mother and daughter. – Michelle V.
Profile Image for Chidimma Desiree.
253 reviews68 followers
February 8, 2021
WELL THAT WAS EVEN BETTER THAN I EXPECTED! I have never in my life related to a main character in a romance novel until now with Azere. So many of her personality and her problems I could connect with especially with the expectations that comes with marriage as a Nigerian woman that grew up not in Nigeria. This book had me captivated from the very beginning. Throughout Azere and Rafael’s journey I couldn’t help but to root for their happily ever after.
Profile Image for Kate Olson.
2,086 reviews727 followers
June 4, 2020
(free review copy) 5 stars for originality in romance - AMEN for a voice and story from a culture (Nigerian-Canadian) not seen often (if at all) in contemporary romance 🙌🏼 3 stars for parts of the writing that seemed like they glossed over some characters and situations that I wanted to be a lot deeper. Overall, I’m excited to read more from this author and am very happy to have read this story.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
354 reviews26 followers
February 4, 2021
If you're looking for a great debut novel with diverse characters with great characters, look no further than Ties That Tether.

What I loved about this book:

1. I think a majority of us can relate to Azere and how she wants her own life, but also wants to make her Mom happy and proud of her. As we grow up it's hard to merge our own thoughts and feeling with those of our parents. While I don't think I'll ever be able to understand some of Azere's Mom's actions, I understand she was afraid to lose her daughter and their ties to Nigeria.

2. This book touches on how difficult it can be for immigrants. Azere's family immigrated from Nigeria to Canada and they struggled to fit in and still remain true to their heritage. The reader gets a peek into life in Nigeria as well as a bunch of drool inducing descriptions of the much loved cuisine of the area.

3. This second chance romance has all the banter and sizzling chemistry I was hoping for. While there was a touch of drama and conflict I thought was bit overdone, I still adored this book. I was addicted Rafael and Azere's love story. Azere's character was easy to like and Rafael was a super charming book boyfriend that was easy to crush on. I hope you'll find yourself rooting for them as much as I did.

This own voices rom-com is something everyone should add to their TBR. Despite the fact that the cover is absolutely STUNNING, this book was a perfect blend of romance and family drama. If you're a fan of either of those genres, you'll adore this book.

Thank you Berkley for my gifted copy.
Profile Image for Nnenna | scsreads.
533 reviews424 followers
December 3, 2020
I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it and I’m happy to report that I loved it!

It’s about a young Nigerian-Canadian woman named Azere, who meets a man named Rafael Castellano and starts to develop feelings for him. There’s just one problem- he is not Nigerian and she promised her parents that she would marry a Nigerian man. As her feelings grow, she has to choose between love and duty, between following her heart or following her parents’ wishes.

I saw a lot of myself in Azere. She’s Nigerian (she’s Edo, but I’m Igbo) and she works in advertising. She’s a dutiful daughter. She loves rom coms and tends to bury her feelings and pretend everything is fine, when it’s not. It me!!! I don’t recall either of my parents ever saying that I had to marry a Nigerian man. But other members of my family have, so I’ve experienced that external pressure to some degree.

I really connected with the way the author wrote about some of the struggles of being an immigrant. I was born here, but I think some of the struggles of being an immigrant and having immigrant parents overlap. Igharo writes about how immigrants chase success, wanting to work hard in their new country to prove that they belong there, while also showing those they might have left behind that they made the right choice when they moved.

She also talks about the struggle of growing up with multiple cultures and how Azere learned to fit into Canadian culture as a survival mechanism. I remember growing up and sometimes feeling suffocated by the Igbo ways that my parents were trying to teach me. I remember thinking, “Why did we have to do things differently? Why can’t we just be normal.” Now that I’m older, I have a better understanding and appreciation of what my parents were trying to do, but even now, my relationship with my Igbo heritage is complicated.

I didn’t mean to go that deep, but now you have a sense of some of the thoughts that surfaced as I was reading this book. The fact that I related a lot to the main character probably makes me biased, but I thought she was a great character and I really sympathized with her struggles. I also enjoyed the writing and how she incorporated some Edo phrases, and there were a couple good steamy scenes as well.

This is a story about love, family, being an immigrant, and choosing a different life than the one you’d envisioned or that was planned for you. I was thrilled when I heard about this romance written by a Nigerian author and for me, it was such a fun, relatable read.
Profile Image for Nerdread.
418 reviews39 followers
Read
January 17, 2021
DNF at 50%

I can’t I just can’t! What the hell even is this ???

Chile .... where to even start with this mess of a book.... like seriously I was so excited to see a story with immigrant characters centered around a black female main character dealing with two cultures and navigating life through that. I was over the moon when I read the synopsis of the book because I can relate to this book. As a child of immigrants who came to America at the age of 12 like the main character I was beyond excited to immerse myself in the story. Turned out i was in for a huge disappointment solely because of the main female character. I literally have angry outbursts when I think about how spineless the main character was. I understand how hard it is to have immigrant parents who want their children to follow certain culture practices but completely painting the family and their culture as villains is not conducive to the story at all.

I hated Azere, she literally made her life unnecessarily complicated when all she had to do is communicate with the male character who by the way was willing to build relationship with her, but Noooo she wants to complicate her life more by allowing her mother to bulldoze her life. Smh I can’t even express how disappointed I am. I really tried to give this book a chance but when Azere won’t tell the father of her child the truth by 50% of the book and continues to make dumbass decisions, I had to throw in the towel just for my own sanity.

No, just no! I hate it here 🙃
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