The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
Brothers Homer and Harold have as their guardian "the meanest man in the entire state of Maine". He is so mean that he sells Harold into the army for the Civil War. Harold is only seventeen. So Homer is left all alone. Throughout the entire book, Homer tries to find his brother. It's a good thing that Homer is a resourceful twelve year old that can come up with tall tales instantly. That really helps him cope and survive. He learns that there are only two real choices in life: do nothing or do something.
This first-person narrative is too exciting to put down. It makes you think what people had to go through during the Civil War. This book is not just about the Civil War. It involves survival, the Quakers, the evils of slavery, ethical decisions, bravery, and the resilience to move forward in life. An added special bonus is the section in the back of the book with notes and slang. You will find:
rifle - rifled musket
geek - carnival performer who bites the heads off of chickens
fire and fall back - vomit in fear
I am not kidding; they are really there and a lot more!