Author: Anna Barcos
ISBN: 978-1425108281
Publisher: Trafford Publishing

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Barcos has captured the heart and soul of the tango in words. The tango is tragic; the tale is tragic. The tango does not provide a solution; there is not solution here. But the pathos and the sheer enormity of the tragedy seems to never end. From start to finish the reader is caught up in the struggles of the main character.

Maria is a young Mexican girl. Her “tia” is taking her to America to become a famous dancer. Maria is 15 years old when she starts on this journey, and the book follows her through her entire life. But Barcos has written Maria’s life in terms of the tango. The dance that started with the cowboys of Argentina dancing in the bordellos of town is the fabric of Maria’s life. Heartbreak is a constant companion for Maria.

Her dreams are taken by Uncle Ruben (her “tia”) and used to abuse her in San Pedro. All the while Maria is thinking that she is working to become a famous Hollywood dancer, while everyone else has other designs for her. Her Uncle is not really her uncle. Her family hides secrets that may never be revealed. And she must make her way through her life as best she can.

Barcos uses several mechanisms to keep the tango in the forefront of the book. Each chapter begins with a quote from a tango. Although it is not common knowledge, there are many tangos that have lyrics. And the lyrics tell the misfortune that is life as the tango dances those same events. Throughout the book the reader is provided the history and tradition of the tango, while Maria learns it herself. Finally in a surprise ending, Barcos reaches deep within the reader’s heart and opens any pain there into the magic, sad though it may be, that is the tango. It left this reviewer with sighs and tears at the beauty that is this dance and Maria.

Barcos uses pathos to drive the book and the plot. She is consistent and focused. The characters are true to life and yet elements of the tango as well. Maria the dancer who can move as no other has, but is stuck in the same routine all her life. Ruben is the foil for Maria to dance with. Yolanda the healer, Maria’s mother, is the music in the background, giving a melody and a rhythm for Maria’s life to dance by. All Maria’s paramours are individual dancers who come and go without rhyme or reason, just partners playing their part while Maria enters one endangered relationship after another.

The cover deserves some mention as well. The loss and the hope combined in the over-the-shoulder glance of the girl leave the reader wanting more but knowing it will hurt when it comes.

Barcos has created a tragedy here that should be read by every person who has had a dream, but never seen it fulfilled. But then it should be read by everyone who can understand why life is a dance that must be lived to be understood

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