Tribute to Another Dead Rock Star

Randy Powell, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $17 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-37748-9
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.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
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