I would be remiss without mentioning, first and foremost, TIES THAT TETHER has one of the best covers of 2020. I mean, it’s stunning! I was highly anticipating Jane Igharo’s debut novel, and to my surprise, it turned out to unexpectedly be one of my very favorite tropes (no spoilers!). In fact, there were a bunch of tropes thrown into this book, and I enjoyed Ms. Igharo’s fresh take on them. The book never went exactly where I expected it to, plot-wise, keeping me engaged throughout the book.
As a newbie to Nigerian culture and, more specifically, a family’s Nigerian immigrant story, I loved learning more about the heroine’s culture and traditions. I felt like Ms. Igharo held the reader’s hand and showed us exactly what Azere was going through, and more importantly, why it was so vital to her plot and her character development.
Additionally, the secondary characters were a delight. Azere’s uncle, sister, cousin, and mom were vital to her as a character and came to life as the story progressed more. I hope that Azere’s sister will get a story soon!
I don’t think I’ve ever said this, but I think this story would have read better if the hero’s point of view had been removed and a few more tweaks had been made to fit the book under a women’s fiction tag. The focus could have been entirely on Azere’s relationship with her mother and sister, and her personal story of growth rather than focusing on a romance.
Almost every single emotional scene between Azere and Rafael is told in a flashback, rather than real-time, which made their connection feel like an afterthought rather than part of the main plot. Rafael’s point of view never added anything to the plot; he was such an underdeveloped character in both page time and emotional depth. The book was so centered around Azere’s story that Rafael felt, and often was, secondary. This made it hard to connect to them as a couple, and I never felt like Azere was completely invested.
In addition, the constant references to romantic comedy movies were… odd? Filler? I’m not sure, but it took away page time that Rafael and Azere desperately needed.
Overall, I think Ms. Igharo’s debut had strong bones but missed the mark as a romance novel. As a regular fiction book, it checked a lot of my boxes! I have high hopes that her next book will be a full five stars.
**I received a free copy of this book in order to provide an honest review**