Buried Onions is Gary Soto's novel about a young man coming of age in the Mexican-American ghetto of Fresno, California. Soto introduces Eddie, the first-person protagonist, who uses the imagery of a group of mortuary students at Fresno City College to lament the deaths of important people in his life. He speaks of his dead father and two uncles as well as his "best friend from high school," Juan, who was killed in an industrial accident at a steel foundry. He also describes the death of his cousin Jesús, who was murdered in the bathroom of a local nightclub. Jesús had been out with Angel, his friend and "carnal" or blood brother. Eddie describes the scene as told to him by Angel:
My poor primo. He had died all because he told another guy that he had yellow shoes. They were in the rest room, at the sink I imagined, and my cousin was happy he had a job and a new woman, so happy that he wanted to talk. Jesús made the mistake of looking down at the guy's shoes and saying something. This guy pushed a dirty blade right into my cousin's clean heart. Or so I heard.
Eddie is thus pestered by his tía Dolores and Angel into getting revenge against the boy in the yellow shoes. He even tracks someone who is wearing yellow shoes into a class at the college, but all he hears from the boy is "I don't know no Jesús." Eddie eventually gives up and walks away. Later in the novel he begins to suspect that maybe Angel was lying about the whole thing and that he really killed Jesús, although there is never any evidence for this.