The Skin of the Sky is the story of Lorenzo de Tena, a Mexican astronomer born in the 1930s. The illegitimate son of a wealthy Mexico City businessman and a poor, but intelligent, peasant woman, Lorenzo is introduced to science (pasteurization and the wonders of flight) by his mother, beginning his lifelong passion.
When his mother dies, Lorenzo and his siblings are taken to live with their father. The children have difficulty adjusting to a life of wealth and privilege, but Lorenzo devotes all his attentions to astronomy. He eventually goes to Harvard to complete his studies and returns to Mexico, determined to elevate Mexico's scientific rankings.
"Lorenzo's calling enables [Elena] Poniatowska not only to write of the heavens with mythic awe and ravishing lyricism but also to ponder the conundrums of space and time, our precarious place in the universe, and the great divide between Mexico's educated elite and countless illiterate poor. . . . Ultimately, Poniatowska's capacious tale of one inspired but lonely man's heroic perseverance dramatizes the divide between the First and Third Worlds and the anguish of those caught in between."--Booklist
"When I read Elena Poniatowska, I'm reminded why she's my hero, why I write, what kind of writer I aspire to be. She's not only an exquisite writer, she's an extraordinary human being. It's this humanity that makes her writing soar."--Sandra Cisneros