The Skin of the Sky by Elena Poniatowska

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The Skin of the Sky is the fascinating and haunting story of the life of Lorenzo de Tena, a brilliant Mexican astronomer. Born in the 1930s, the illegitimate son of a businessman and a peasant woman, Lorenzo lives happily with his mother, brothers, and sisters on their mother's farm on a small plot of land outside Mexico City. When Lorenzo's mother dies, his father brings the children to live with him in the capital. Thrust into a privileged world, the children struggle to adjust, and an angry Lorenzo turns to the study of the stars to find solace. He pursues his studies at Harvard, then returns to Mexico, where he attempts to do first-world scientific research in a third-world country. A complex and contradictory man, Lorenzo strives to make his country a better place for all her people, especially the very poor and disenfranchised.

Setting traditional beliefs against technological progress, and personal sacrifice against professional achievement, The Skin of the Sky details the efforts of a country to join the twenty-first century, and paints the portrait of a lonely man who can find true contentment and satisfaction only in the stars.


About Elena Poniatowska

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Elena Poniatowska is the author of more than forty works, including the classic Massacre in Mexico and the novel Dear Diego. She lives in Mexico City.
Published October 6, 2004 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 341 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Lorenzo de Tena and his siblings are the offspring of an affair between a rich urbanite and a peasant, but, unlike the others, Lorenzo doggedly follows his passion for the stars.

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Publishers Weekly

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Lorenzo's father is a "well-ironed dandy who showed up on Sundays," but Florencia is a living textbook, teaching the children about pasteurization and the Wright Brothers and encouraging in Lorenzo a lifelong passion for the stars.

Sep 20 2004 | Read Full Review of The Skin of the Sky


Even supposing that Poniatowska intended this shift in mood, perhaps to parallel the reader’s loss of the physical world with Lorenzo’s rejection of it, the technique only emphasizes Lorenzo’s acid unlikability.

Nov 03 2004 | Read Full Review of The Skin of the Sky

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