Warning: Contains spoilers. Do not continue reading this post if you want to read Ties That Tether but haven’t yet. You’ve been warned.
I just finished reading Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo, and it made me remember the joy I used to get from reading romance books. I discovered this novel from a Facebook group I’m in called Black Girls Read Too. This group is the reason I’ve bought more books this year than I probably have in my entire life. It’s also how I found a lot of incredible reads like this one!
For a while, I’ve attempted to read like three other books before picking up Ties That Tether, but I could never finish them. Believe me — I’ve been trying to complete the last book I started before this one, but I kept putting it down for weeks at a time with no desire to pick it back up. I couldn’t get into any of the books I was reading, which worried me after a while. It was like I either kept buying the wrong kinds of books for me or just didn’t enjoy reading as much as I used to.
I finished reading Ties That Tether in just under a month, which was the quickest I’ve finished a book in a long time. I was that invested in it. Here is my take on Jane Igharo’s debut novel.
What I Liked
I mainly enjoyed how relatable the book was for me and probably many other immigrants. Although I was born and raised in America, both my parents are from Jamaica and mostly set in their own ways. Just like Azere’s parents, culture means everything to my parents, especially my dad. Fortunately, my mom isn’t nearly as cray about it as Azere’s. My parents did teach me the importance of culture without shoving it down my throat like Azere’s mom constantly did.
I also understand how she felt about being torn between living the life you want and the one your parent has planned for you or expects from you. The book is also relatable for me because of the whole interracial relationship thing. That’s lowkey why I got it in the first place! The difference between my Jamaican family and my boyfriend’s Italian/European-mix family is quite drastic. Like Azere and Rafael, we still make it work.
Another thing I enjoyed about the novel was the way it was written. The author Jane Igharo writes so beautifully and can make some of the simplest scenes sound exciting. One that stood out to me was Azere and Rafael’s sex scene. It was their first time having sex since their one-night stand, and the author writes it so well. I enjoyed how it was detailed but not so descriptive like erotica. I remember finishing that scene, putting the book down, and thinking, “this is the most elegantly-written sex scene I’ve ever read!”
Azere’s character is really likable. I enjoyed her bubbly personality and how headstrong and determined her character was. I also liked her obsession with romance movies because, girl, same!
A big thing that makes a book stand out is one that can get me in my feelings, and Ties That Tether definitely did! I felt emotional while reading the scene where Azere was shopping for things for the baby. In it, she describes how heartbreaking it was that her mom wasn’t going to be in her life or the baby’s life. Azere also mentions how much she missed her mom and wished she could be there with her as she shopped for baby necessities.
Azere also brings up a Nigerian tradition where a woman’s mother stays with her and does all the household chores after she gives birth. Azere reflected on how she wouldn’t be able to experience that since her mother disowned her. Even the way her emotions poured when she was talking to Christina about her mom not showing up at the baby shower got to me. Despite how Azere’s mom treated her, she still missed her and wanted her to be present during such a big milestone in her life. I felt that sadness to my core.
Because of this, I grew to hate Azere’s mom so much! Some of the stuff that came from her mouth made me want to jump in the book and slap her. And her hypocrisy toward the end of the book made my blood boil! She gave Azere hell about honoring her late father while she was in a secret relationship with his brother for over a year. Azere’s mom even had the audacity to tell her that her father is dead and she is alive. Like how selfish can she be? Holding a promise over your daughter’s head she made when she was 12 years old just so she could live the life that YOU want is so messed up! See how this book messes with my emotions?
Anyway, I felt no sympathy for Azere’s mom after she got caught in bed with her uncle. Even after she came around at the end of the book, I still can’t sand her. That’s just my pettiness, though.
What I Didn’t Enjoy
There was some stuff about the book I thought could be a little better. I’m not sure if Nigerian moms are seriously that extra, but Azere’s mom reminded me of those internet stars who make skits about how African parents act. Because I kept thinking about those characters, Auzere’s mom didn’t feel real to me.
It was especially during that scene where she found out Azere was pregnant with Rafael’s baby. This lady was seriously over here jumping up and down, hootin’ and hollerin’ like it was the end of the world. I was reading the page and thinking, “is she for real?” Then again, maybe some Nigerians really are that extra. That monstrosity kind of took me out of the story, and I felt like I was watching a skit on social media.
I’m not sure if Jane Igharo does this intentionally, but I noticed a complete lack of emotion in Azere whenever she was around her mother. It was like her bubbly personality I enjoy shuts off whenever she’s talking to her mom, and she becomes robotic. Even after her mom disowned and practically shamed her for being pregnant with a white man’s baby, I didn’t get much out of her. Where was the emotion?! I also thought the scene where Azere finally stood up for herself lacked emotion.
This might just be me being picky, but since I’m not Nigerian, I didn’t understand many of the references the author made in the book. I also found a lot of the names and other Nigerian stuff difficult to pronounce. I particularly would have enjoyed having a page at the beginning or end of the book with a key explaining certain Nigerian things and the pronunciation of names. I just want to make sure I’m saying things correctly!
BTW, when Azere enunciated her name for Rafael after they first met, it was written incorrectly. Which syllable is supposed to be stressed? Is it pronounced AH-zery or Ah-ZEE-ree? I need answers!
I might be picky about this too, but the author made tons of references in the book to songs, actors, TV shows, and movies. While I did understand a few of them, there were others I didn’t. It was like you as a reader had to know who that actor was or know the song or TV show she referenced to understand what was going on at the moment. I personally don’t feel like having to stop reading my book to Google a reference in it. I would have preferred fewer real-life references to avoid interrupting the story to search for the actor who Elijah resembled.
All in all, I really enjoyed the book. I’d give it about a solid 8.5 out of 10. Any book that can toy with my emotions (as you probably noticed 😂) is super well-written. It was a nice hopeful and lighthearted story about how love conquers all. The pacing wasn’t too fast or too slow, and I think I like books with shorter chapters like this one. I also enjoy happily ever afters, and I’m glad Azere got hers with Rafael. They were too cute together. I still hate her mom, though.
I was so into Ties That Tether that I bought Jane Igharo’s second novel before I even finished it. I’m excited about reading it and getting one step closer to tackling my ever-growing TBR pile. If you read Ties That Tether, let me know what you thought of it. Also, feel free to drop some more book recommendations even though I don’t need to buy more books. 😂
Thanks so much for reading!