Grease Town

Grease Town

by Ann Towell
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
This historical fiction novel, set in Ontario, Canada, follows twelve-year-old Titus Sullivan as he smuggles himself into the back of his brother Lem's wagon and leaves his aunt and uncle for an adventure with Lem and another uncle, Robert, who is already working in the oil fields. While much of the book follows Titus's daily life as he makes friends, forges strong family ties with Robert and Lemuel, and eventually comes to terms with Aunt Sophie, who was not ready to give up her familial obligation of fostering him to adulthood, tension enters the story through the character of John Longville, a racist troublemaker who seems bent on creating problems for members of the black community in town. Titus's friendship with Moses, a young black teen, and his family helps Titus better understand the bonds of humanity across groups but also forces him to deal with the evils of racism, especially when Longville and a few other troublemakers facilitate a race riot and burn Moses' family out of their home. This is a solid piece of historical fiction with very engaging characters. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—In 1863, oil has recently been discovered in Oil Springs, Ontario, and a variety of people, black and white, and from many different walks of life, are settling there. Orphans Lem and Titus Sullivan live in their aunt's stuffy and regimented house. When 19-year-old Lem sets out for Oil Springs, 13-year-old Titus stows away in his brother's wagon and unwittingly scores a bumpy ride into a new and eventful chapter in his life. Towell skillfully creates the setting of this mucky little town and its colorful inhabitants. Titus, who narrates, has a voice that is believable and uncontrived, which lends an air of authenticity to the story. Supporting characters are equally strong and well developed, particularly Moses, the son of former slaves who becomes Titus's friend. Racism has followed the freed slaves into Canada, close to Chatham (of Underground Railroad fame). Living in a shantytown of sorts, black families are attacked one night in the culmination of a race riot. Titus witnesses the events and is traumatized to the point of speechlessness, and it's questionable whether he will find his tongue and be able to testify. Towell has created a strong narrator and a compelling plot.—Corrina Austin, Locke's Public School, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887769849
Publisher:
Tundra
Publication date:
02/09/2010
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
849,211
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

ANN TOWELL was born in Chatham, Ontario, and grew up in Wallaceburg. She was co-finalist, with her husband, world-renowned photographer Larry Towell, for the Dorothea Lange/Paul Taylor Award for work on the Mennonites, a segment that appeared in the 1994 summer edition of Descant magazine. Her first children's novel The Hollow Locust Trees was published by Black Moss Press in 1998. She has four children: Moses, Naomi, Noah, and Isaac and a granddaughter, River Annabelle. She lives near Shetland, Ontario, on a 75-acre farm.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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