I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Grease Town by Ann Towell
Published by Random House LLC on 2010-02-09
Genres: Historical, Prejudice & Racism, Social Issues, Young Adult
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A heartbreaking history of prejudice, family ties, and the loss of innocence.When twelve-year-old Titus Sullivan decides to run away to join his Uncle Amos and older brother, Lem, he finds an alien and exciting world in Oil Springs, the first Canadian oil boomtown of the 19th century.The Enniskillen swamp is slick with oil, and it takes enterprising folk to plumb its depths. The adventurers who work there are a tough lot of individuals. In this hard world, Titus becomes friends with a young black boy, the child of slaves who came to Canada on the Underground Railroad. When tragedy strikes in the form of a race riot, Titus's loyalties are tested as he struggles to deal with the terrible fallout.Though the characters are fictitious, the novel is based on a race riot that occurred in Oil Springs, Ontario, on March 20, 1863. Grease Town is historical fiction at its finest.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Grease Town by Ann Towell is a children’s historical fiction novel. Upon receiving Grease Town in the mail, I had thought it was a book with a PoC main character, because there was a person of color on the cover. I was wrong in that regard, however, an African character does play a large role in the story, as do race relations.
Grease Town takes place in Canada, which meant I learned something. All this time I thought Canadians were remarkable because they ride around on moose and have healthcare. Turns out other things happen in Canada too, and they don’t actually ride moose, that’s just a fantasy I have. Anyways, back to the story at hand. The main character, a pre-teen named Titus, decides he’s sick of living with his prim and proper aunt, and he wants to stowaway to a Canadian oil provinces on his brother’s wagon. His brother is an adult who goes to the province to make some cold hard cash. This province is remarkable because black people live there too. Many of the black people who live in the province are escaped slaves. Many references are made to the war in the south, which basically means what we Americans call The Civil War. So anyways, Titus becomes great friends with this kid named Moses, who I think is the PoC character on the cover.
Anyways, race riots occur because people are dumb enough to believe everything they are told. Titus is courageous, and his family is endearing. You see, Titus doesn’t run off to the wilds, his uncle actually has a homestead at the oil province. Anyways, his uncle is rather progressive, and kind-hearted. Grease Town by Ann Towell is told in first person, and Titus’s voice definitely feels authentic.
I felt Grease Town by Ann Towell was a bit juvenile for me, however, I’m in my mid-20s, some children’s books appeal to me, some don’t. That stated, I think Grease Town would be a great addition to any middle school history classroom. I think this will appeal to male readers and would work wonderfully for reluctant readers.