Emma Imrie was a Plath-obsessed, self-taught teenage musician dreaming of fame, from a remote village on the Isle of Wight. She found it too, briefly becoming a star of the nineties Camden music scene. But then she died in mysterious circumstances.
In the aftermath of Emma’s death, her younger brother, Jeff, is forced by their parents to stay at the opulent home of childhood friends on the island.
During a wild summer of beach parties and music, Jeff faces up to the challenges that come with young love, youthful ambition and unresolved grief. His sister’s prodigious advice from beyond the grave becomes the only weapon he has against an indifferent world. As well as the only place where the answers he craves might exist…
Dead Rock Stars is a clever and compelling tale that follows a young boy named Jeff who is reeling from the death of his sister Emma – a star of the Camden music scene who dies in mysterious circumstances. While forced to spend the summer on the Isle of Wight, Jeff discovers his sisters diary that will help to guide him through the challenges of first love and growing up.
This book is completely unlike anything I’ve read before and manages to pack so much into one story – it is a coming of age novel, but also an exploration of grief and a mystery all rolled into one. Mankowski weaves the different elements to create a story that is heart wrenching and addictive. The thing I found most fascinating in this book are the brilliant characters Mankowski has created. Jeff is trying to come to terms with the death of his sister, his parents have abandoned him while they too cope with Emma’s death. We see glimpses of Emma through her diary and she too is a complex and interesting character.
I really enjoyed the diary aspect of the story and it was brilliant to see the Camden music scene come alive in Mankowski’s words. I found the diary entries particularly gripping as we see Emma’s lifestyle become more and more reckless. This is a very powerful story and one I didn’t want to put down. This is my first book by this author but it definitely won’t be my last. If you’re looking for a compelling read to keep you engrossed during the dark autumn months this should definitely be on your wish list.