Green is a 15-year-old girl whose mother has always assured her that her path in life “could be found in the garden.” So when her parents and sister are all tragically killed by a bombing while they’re in the city selling their vegetables, you’d assume she’d turn to her garden for solace. (Especially since they died “at the height of our harvest, [leaving] row after row of new zucchini and purple onions, of peppers that were shiny as frogs and blueberry bushes that were thickening with fruit.”)
Sadly, what wasn’t destroyed by the raining ash that now coats her whole world was scavenged by looters, most of whom are other newly-orphaned kids. So she’s left with only Onion – a dog, not a crop.
And ironically, Onion-the-dog is the one doing the crying – mourning their family when Green cannot. He sheds the tears while she keeps busy just surviving, and not only is she resilient; she also turns out to be quite industrious. When the pantry is empty, Green goes out into the woods, gathers chestnuts, pounds them into flour, and makes her own bread. By finding a way to make something warm and life-sustaining from cold little earth-marbles, she emerges as one hopeful young stalk pushing up through the ash.