Grease Town by Ann Towell.
When his older brother leaves to live with their Uncle Amos and work in Oil City, twelve-year-old Titus doesn’t want to be left behind to live with bossy Aunt Sadie. He stows away on his brother’s cart, only to reveal himself when it is too much of a hassle to be returned to London (Ontario). So begins Titus’ adventure, and the loss of innocence. A man they meet along the way arrives in Oil City and stirs up racial trouble, causing a mass mob to wreak havoc the worse sort. Trying to warn his best friend, Titus witnesses the mob’s attack on the shantytown, an event that renders him completely speechless for quite some time.
Historical fiction. The book is set in Canada during the American Civil War. Titus’ friend Moses is the son of a former slave.
Titus. He’s a good kid (as my MIL would say).
Uncle Amos. He’s a bit rough around the edges, but a wonderful guardian for a young teen.
I’m not fond of the title, and don’t think it will appeal to kids. While I do like the cover for itself, I don't think that it will appeal to kids either.
Typo alert! The description on the inside jacket cover lists the aunt’s name as Sophie. It’s really Sadie.
It was easy for me to draw similarities to this tale and that of The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick. Both are set in the same time period. Both feature a boy around 12 years of age who heads after an older brother. Both start out with a lot of humor, then get dark at the end. Also, I think that Homer and Titus are similar in personalities.