Book: Tribute to Another Dead Rock Star

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Tribute to Another Dead Rock Star

Author: Randy Powell
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Grady is skateboarding toward a major decision.

No longer able to live with his grandmother, fifteen-year-old Grady Grennan has to find a new address. one option is to move in with his mentally disabled half brother, Louie, in Seattle. But that poses a problem: Louie’s adoptive mother, Vickie, and Grady are about as compatible as Mozart and heavy metal.

Nevertheless, Grady’s testing the waters. He’s in Seattle for a concert tribute to his and Louie’s mother, a grunge rock icon who died three years ago. Grady has been invited to speak at the tribute, but what is he supposed to say to thousands of adoring fans about a mother who abandoned her sons in favor of a musical career?

Both humorous and deeply moving, Tribute to Another Dead Rock Star poses challenging, provocative questions to all sorts of readers—cynics, liberals, slackers, and rock stars included.


Grady Grennan is finding out that it’s pretty hard to get over your mother’s death when you hear her voice every time you switch on the radio. Besides being Grady’s mom, Debbie Grennan was also a famous heavy-metal rock star. Since her drug overdose, Grady has tried to fill the hole she left in his life with everything from skateboarding to spending more time with his mentally disabled brother, Louie. But he can’t quite seem to master the skateboard, and his time with Louie is often spoiled by the vicious arguments he has with Louie’s stepmother, Vickie. Now the third anniversary of his mother’s death is approaching, and Grady has been invited to a tribute concert in her honor. The concert weekend brings Grady’s feelings to a head, and he must decide if he’s going to be a real brother to Louie (and a part of Vickie’s family) or remain just another long-haired slacker—the son of a dead rock star.

Through Grady’s conflicted feelings for Louie, author Randy Powell successfully captures the struggle between selfishness and generosity that constantly rages in the teen psyche. “I can’t imagine…not seeing Louie for a whole year. On the other hand, I can’t imagine living in the same house with the guy, either.” Grady’s disagreements with Vickie over everything from music to religion crackle with a parent-child tension that teens will immediately find familiar and amusing. With the invention of Grady Grennan, Powell has given young adult literature a thoughtful new underdog—with the smart mouth of Rats Saw God‘s Steve York and the soul of The Outsiders‘s Ponyboy Curtis. (Ages 12 and older) —Jennifer Hubert

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