Jane Igharo’s debut novel about Azere, a Nigerian Canadian woman, contending with a promise she made as a child to her father on his deathbed, one wreathed in her Nigerian culture, and what it means for her in her mid-twenties in Canada.
Preserving cultural identity, considering personal growth and desires, many things are touched on in Ties That Tether in a way that highlights the complex nature that is the aforementioned situation.
Published: 29 September 2020
Age Group: Adult
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.
Death of a parent (cancer), death of a spouse and child (flashback), car collision, blood, traumatic childbirth
Representation includes Nigerian Canadian woman whose family immigrated from Nigeria; a Nigerian Italian side character (best friend) whose experience as a biracial character is touched on.
Azere’s relationship with her sister, Efe. They understood each other probably about as well as sisters can and it was interesting to see how they navigated themselves as not only siblings, but as daughters.
Christina, Azere’s best friend and coworker, was a fun presence who did not shy away from calling Azere on her b.s. when she lashed out. I thought she was a a sympathetic support for Azere.
The discussions, whether between the people in the book or within Azere’s mind and the reader looking in, about the pressures that she was facing from not only her mother, but from her society whether it was Nigerian or Canadian. The different expectations intermingled throughout the story and Azere’s observations made her actions all the more anticipated by the reader.
There felt like an issue with pacing at stages of the book, wherein certain revelations came too quickly, their build up being glossed over, events gotten to and over with little fan fare, then others were I was a bit frustrated with the “please get to the point” of it.
I really did not care for Azere’s mother or the secondary “love interest”, if he can be called that. There were scenes that were uncomfortable for me because of personal experience (so these did not affect the rating), but despite that, the attitudes of both characters did chafe. Redeemable? Perhaps (that would be part of the story).
Sweet and forbidden – that’s how I remember it tasting. It was everything I wanted and couldn’t have. There was a rule I had to obey, and it was simple: never get romantically involved with a man who isn’t Edo.
I remember how we all shared a lifestyle and an identity that was crafted by those who came before us.
Azere’s story, and largely it is with the romance also being there, is an enjoyable read looking at a young woman discovering the parts of herself that have room to stretch and grow and who to share this with, whether that means honoring a promise or otherwise.
Jane Abieyuwa Igharo was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Canada at the age of twelve. She has a journalism degree from the University of Toronto and works as a communications specialist in Ontario, Canada. When she isn’t writing, she’s watching “Homecoming” for the hundredth time and trying to match Beyoncé’s vocals to no avail.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.
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