Cover image for Tribute to another dead rock star
Tribute to another dead rock star
Powell, Randy.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, [1999]

Physical Description:
215 pages ; 22 cm
For a tribute to his mother, a dead rock star, fifteen-year-old Grady returns to Seattle, where he faces his mixed feelings for his retarded younger half-brother Louie while pondering his own future.
Reading Level:
720 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.4 6.0 29950.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.2 8 Quiz: 17954 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Randy Powell is the author of five novels, including Dean Duffy and Is Kissing a Girl Who Smokes Like Licking an Ashtray? , both ALA Best Books for Young Adults. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7^-12. Returning to Seattle to speak at a concert honoring his deceased rock-star mother, 15-year-old Gary dreads facing his distant stepfamily more than giving a speech before thousands of drunk, screaming fans. His mother's ex-boyfriend has little backbone; the ex-boyfriend's new wife, Vickie, seems to be an unrelenting Christian tyrant; and, most sadly of all, Gary's mentally disabled half-brother is a painful reminder of their mother's drug abuse and irresponsibility. After several days of heated conflict with his estranged family, Gary begins to understand them, his mother, and himself. Even more impressive than the solid dialogue and genuine suspense concerning the story's final resolution are the authentic, multilayered emotions that Gary experiences while slogging through the debris of uncertainty initiated by his mother's death. In the powerful exchanges between Gary and Vickie, compelling arguments about faith, family, and love are made fuller because Gary has been the victim of tragedy, and Vickie has made a life of helping her retarded stepson overcome it. --Roger Leslie

Publisher's Weekly Review

Powell (Dean Duffy; The Whistling Toilets) poses some provocative questions in this unglamorized, introspective look at the fringes of the rock-star scene. Grady, the 15-year-old narrator, returns to his hometown of Seattle three years after the death of his mother, famous hard-rocker Debbie Grennan, to speak at a concert performed in her memory. While there, he stays with his mentally handicapped half-brother, Louie, and Louie's born-again-Christian family. The half-brothers' artless conversations allow Grady time to reflect on Debbie's rise to fame as well as her self-destructive behavior. From beginning to end, the novel spans only three days; still, the author manages to skillfully encapsulate the personalities of the people and events that have shaped the protagonist. Acutely aware of how his presence causes tension in Louie's household, Grady nonetheless feels a form of acceptance and love from them that his own mother was unable to give. The author thoughtfully and convincingly works out Grady's dilemma about his future (weighing whether to move in with Louie's family, attend school in Europe or become a stagehand for a rock band) as he comes to terms with his mother's strengths and failings ("No, she was no great person. And yet she wasn't the devil, either"). Through sharply defined characters and lively, often humorous dialogue, Powell allows readers to comfortably examine some serious issues. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8-11-Grady Grennan-the likable 15-year-old son of Janis Joplin-like rock star Debbie Grennan, who abandoned him when he was 7 and died from choking after overdosing on drugs and alcohol-relates what happens when he is invited to speak at a tribute in Seattle for his celebrity mother. No longer able to live with his grandmother, who has remarried and moved away, Grady must decide whether to move in with the family of his mildly retarded 13-year-old half brother, Louie, or enroll in a study-abroad program in Europe. While attending the tribute, he stays with Louie, his architect father Mitch, his stepmother Vickie, and their three children. Vickie is a committed Christian whose outlook on life and focus on discipline and structure often clash with Grady's more freewheeling life-style. The teen's low-key first-person narrative is alternately sarcastic and self-reflective, and his touching, ambivalent remembrances of his flamboyant mother are skillfully intertwined with his candid account of his fitful, turbulent, and ultimately successful search for a family he's always missed. A moving and memorable story with sharply etched characters.-Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.