Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home

Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home

3.4 5
by Maria Finn

See All Formats & Editions

Maria Finn's husband was cheating. First she threw him out. Then she cried. Then she signed up for tango lessons. It turns out that tango has a lot to teach about understanding love and loss, about learning how to follow and how to lead, how to live with style and flair, take risks, and sort out what it is you really want. As Maria's world begins to revolve around


Maria Finn's husband was cheating. First she threw him out. Then she cried. Then she signed up for tango lessons. It turns out that tango has a lot to teach about understanding love and loss, about learning how to follow and how to lead, how to live with style and flair, take risks, and sort out what it is you really want. As Maria's world begins to revolve around the friendships she makes in dance class and the milongas (social dances) she attends regularly in New York City, we discover with her the fascinating culture, history, music, moves, and beauty of the Argentine tango. With each new dance step she learns—the embrace, the walk, the sweep, the exit—she is one step closer to returning to the world of the living. Eventually Maria travels to Buenos Aires, the birthplace of tango, and finds the confidence to try romance again. 

As exhilarating as the dance itself, the story whirls us into the center of the ballroom dancing craze. And buoyed by the author's humor and passion, it imparts surprising insights about how to get on with life after you've lost in love.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Shaken by the discovery that her Cuban husband and salsa partner was having an affair, Finn, a contributor to New York magazine, embarked on learning to tango as a way of healing her broken heart, and chronicles her journey in this rather dry memoir. In tango, an Argentinean dance form originating in the immigrant neighborhoods and brothels of Buenos Aires, she tapped the “sources of human sorrow and human happiness” and found a safe comfort and intimacy among strangers. From standing on the sidelines watching the elegant, accomplished couples to plunging into her initial lessons at the South Street Seaport and attending her first milongas, or social dances, Finn had to connect with a series of constantly changing partners, some better at leading than others, and some more forgiving than others about her mistakes. Finn organizes her memoir around the tango steps—from la salida (the basic) through la caminata (the walk), la volcada (the fall), el boleo (the throw), all the way to el abrazo (the embrace)—which also cleverly mirror her stages of grief, from anger to acceptance. Sadly, her foray remains journalistically stilted rather than tango sensuous, and rarely warms the reader. Along with her personal story, involving a trip to a wedding in Buenos Aires and documenting there the gay tango scene, she nicely elucidates the evolution of the dance, through the music of Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Gardel, and traces briefly its flashpoints across the globe, from America to Finland and Turkey. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
A gracefully rendered memoir of a woman seeking post-divorce healing through tango. The tango first evolved in late-19th-century Argentina, spreading to clubs in Europe and the United States in the years leading up to World War I. Known for its fiery drama and stylistic flair, the complexity and emotive breadth of authentic tango has been diluted by simplistic Hollywood numbers and, more recently, TV dance competitions. Finn (editor: Mexico in Mind, 2006, etc.) conveys an abiding veneration for tango, from its rich historical origins and romantic vocabulary to the nuanced precision in gestures and footwork. With chapters named for the structural elements of tango-El Abrazo, La Sacada, El Boleo, etc.-the author bluntly recounts the unraveling of her marriage, along with the machinations of dating, elegantly drawing metaphorical lines between challenging dance maneuvers and the phases of relationships. "These fixed patterns," writes the author, "set to melodies and harmonies, give order in the chaos of emotions. Patterns are what we follow to find the source, and in tango, the source is why a person chooses this dance." Other tango-based journals, such as Marina Palmer's Kiss and Tango: Looking for Love in Buenos Aires (2005), are more provocative; Finn's narrative remains rooted in inner growth and sociological observation than stockings and stilettos. Despite refreshingly candid analyses of her choices and a vivid cast of friends and dance partners, the author's sardonic wit is sometimes eclipsed by cumbersome reiterations of the finer technical points of tango. Nonetheless, from the public tango milongas in New York to her immersion in the Buenos Aires tango community after the 2001economic crisis spawned a renewed interest in the dance, her devotion to the art is obvious. Mixing equal parts personal-growth story, social commentary and Tango 101, Finn demystifies the illustrious world of tango with wry yet reverent insight. Agent: Jen Unter/The Unter Agency

Product Details

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.19(h) x 0.69(d)

Meet the Author

Maria Finn has written for Audubon Magazine, Saveur, Metropolis, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, among many other publications. She has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and her essays have been anthologized in Best Food Writing and The Best Women's Travel Writing

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kimberly_Book_Addict More than 1 year ago
The art of dancing is something that can become all-consuming to a person. Look to professional dancers who take class upon class, perfecting their technique and learning new styles. For non-professionals, dance can also be a source of exercise, stress release, or just a way to let loose and have fun. As someone who took tap dance lessons for 13 years I can relate to how infectious dance can become for a person. I remember as a child taking my first tap lessons, and becoming obsessed with old black-and-white musicals with my aunt and grandma just so that I could watch the elaborate tap numbers. Dancing is one of my fondest memories from childhood and conversely it helped me get through some harder periods of life. Knowing I could lose myself in class with my friends each week and just tap out my feelings on the floor was helpful with the stresses of a teen life. When I heard about Maria Finn’s Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home, I knew I had to read it and learn how dance had not only affected her, but changed her life. In her memoir, Finn, a journalist and regular contributor to New York Magazine, finds herself free-floating and lost upon finding out that her husband (and salsa lesson partner) has cheated on her. To try to cope with this and find some sense of reality again, she signs up for tango lessons in New York City. As she slowly rebuilds her life, she learns the sweeping and seductive moves of the Argentine Tango as well as the history behind this passion filled dance. Finn rejuvenates her life by creating a new circle of friends that she meets while taking lessons. She realizes that she has been built back up to a new level of happiness and inner peace, and culminates her lessons with a trip to Buenos Aires, the birthplace of the Tango. What she finds is that she’s been reborn herself. Finn’s journey of self-discovery through the use of tango is absolutely inspiring. Her memoir proves that dance can and does have major impacts on a persons self-esteem and self-worth. Upon finishing this novel I looked at Todd and said, “I really need to start taking tango lessons.” Finn’s memoir is written with a personality that is 100% infectious. The way she chooses to look at her life makes the reader want to step back and re-evaluate the things that are important in his/her own life. The ending is truly a culmination of the dance of tango, as well as Finn’s rebirth. An added surprise in the memoir was learning about the extensive history and technique of the tango. It’s obvious that Finn did her research and enjoyed doing it. The portions of the work that deal with the background of the dance were clear, concise, and well researched. The book is a great poetic ode to dance and to the tango. I’d be highly interested in reading a follow-up to see where Finn is now in life and with her tango! (I’m also really curious to find out where all her tango friends are and what they’re all doing!) (Reflections of a Book Addict)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not a book reviewer, but I enjoyed the book. Makes me want to go take tango lessens, but then I have always wanted to take tango lessens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
In Hold Me Tight and Tango Me Home Maria Finn relates how she recovered from a broken heart by learning the tango. It begins when she finds out her husband has been cheating on her. After throwing him out she turns to the world of tango for the intimacy, physical closeness, and mental spark she is suddenly missing in her life. As she learns each new step she gains back her confidence, makes new friends, and gradually is able to open up again. By the time she travels to Buenos Aires she is ready for all the fire and romance of dancing the tango in the country that created it. Maria Finn does a beautiful job describing what it is that draws people to dancing, and to dancing the tango in particular. Her explanations of the connection two dancers sometimes feel and the constant quest to capture that feeling will make anyone want to tango. I liked her humble accounts of messing up the new steps and frustrating her more experienced partners and I loved her descriptions of all the personalities frequenting the milongas. Social dances make for the best people watching! I wish the book had included a bit more about the people and a little less of the technical dance talk, but still an interesting, easy read.