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Buried Onions

by Gary Soto

ISBN 0152062653 / 9780152062651 / 0-15-206265-3
Publisher HMH Books for Young Readers
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

Eddie can always smell onions in the air--the sharp bitter odor of hopelessness and anger that haunts the poor side of Fresno. "I had a theory about those vapors, which were not released by the sun's heat but by a huge onion buried under the city. This onion made us cry. Tears leapt from our eyelashes and stained our faces." Eddie tries to escape from the poverty and gang society that surrounds him by taking vocational classes and staying away from his old "cholos," (gang friends). But when his cousin is killed, his aunt urges him to seek out and punish the murderer. To avoid the pressure building in his neighborhood, Eddie takes a landscaping job in an affluent suburb. But this too goes awry when his boss's truck is stolen while in his care. In the end, with his money gone and a dangerous gang member stalking him, Eddie's only choice is to join the military and hope that they can give him a better future than the one Fresno seems to offer.

There is no tidy closure--certainly no happy ending--to this bleak novel. But that is exactly what gives Buried Onions its strong, acidic flavor. Teens with a low tolerance for any type of pretense will appreciate Gary Soto's honesty in not trying to force a fairy-tale ending. In spare but always striking prose, Soto has written an unrelentingly grim story that teens will savor because it rings true. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer Hubert [via]