As you already know, I’m a romantic at heart. After reading so many intense books in the past few months, I realized it was a time for a cozy read—a book with humor and one that will pull me into the holiday spirit. So based on the synopsis, I thought the debut novel Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo was an excellent selection.
Ties that Tether is a story centers around Azere, a 25-year-old Nigerian woman who moves to Canada with her mother and younger sister during childhood. In a chance encounter, Azere meets Rafael, a Spanish- Canadian, and eventually engages in a relationship with him. However, before arriving in Canada, at the of 12, Azere promises her dying father that she will marry a Nigerian man when the time comes – a pledge that her mother holds over her head at every turn. As a result, her romance with Rafael causes her internal conflict and strains the tie with her mother. Being the dutiful daughter her whole life, she wants to preserve her vow to her father and honor her culture. The book touches on Nigerian culture, family dynamics, interracial relationships, self-love, cultural and societal pressures placed on first-generation immigrants.
I found the book to be charming. Azere’s mother’s theatrics was frustrating but mostly hilarious. There were some aspects of her mother that vaguely reminded me of my own mother. I loved how Igharo infused Nigerian culture throughout the story, especially the clothing and food. Being a Nigerian-American, what strongly resonated with me in the novel was when Azere shares her struggle with immigrating to Canada. Here is a passage that illustrates the challenges she encounters: “…at a school where the majority were Caucasians, the difference between myself and my peers became apparent…At lunch they ate sandwiches cut in neat triangles. My lunch of yam pottage made eyebrows raise and noses scrunch. The kids were cruel. And the only way to stop their cruelty was to confirm. It was a survival mechanism – alter the way I speak, so I don’t stand out; ask for turkey sandwich for lunch, so the smell of Nigerian food doesn’t attract attention and notify people of my difference…” When I read this, I immediately realized I wish I had a book like this while growing up. It would have been nice to read about a protagonist that faced similar difficulties at a young age while trying to survive a foreign environment.
Even though there are cheesy lines in the book, I found them adorable and enjoyed the story. Although, I wished Azere voices her opinions and stood up for herself earlier, and Rafael had more character development.
This book is a perfect pick to get into this holiday season!
Interested in this book? Click here to buy it on Amazon or find it at a bookstore near you!