by Gary Soto
A bitter, sad and gritty little novel, Buried Onions tells the story of Eddie, a Hispanic teenager struggling in a poor neighborhood of Fresno, CA. He tries hard to immerse himself in education, find work and stay out of trouble. But the deaths of some friends and family members brings the influence of gangs into his life, and no matter what Eddie does, escape from street violence and poverty seems impossible. This book has a close association with Always Running in my mind; both having to do with Latin American teens struggling with the presence of gangs in their lives. I found Buried Onions to be the better read. It has more poetic language and an admirable main character, who tries to make good decisions and steer his life in a better direction- but the odds are just stacked against him. Like when he finally found a job doing yard work in a well-to-do suburban neighborhood across town, only to have it sabotaged because a street kid stole his employer's truck. This line from the novel sums up Eddie's frustration pretty well: "I wanted to sprint straight into the future, but I kept going in circles." There is no happy ending to this story, but its closure is honest and fitting.
Rating: 3/5 ........ 149 pages, 1997