Book Review: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

  The Final Revival of Opal & Nev  by Dawnie Walton Genre:  Historical fiction Synopsis:   Opal is a fiercely independent young wo...


The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

Genre: Historical fiction

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Racism, death/murder/lynching, Black trauma, heavy drug/alcohol usage/addiction, graphic injuries, misogyny

Overall rating:  ★★★★★

It took me much too long to read The Final Revival of Opal and Nev. My mental state and capacity for sitting down and just enjoying a book did not do justice to the masterpiece of Opal and Nev. So while I typically would’ve devoured this book in mere days, it took me several months to read, and through no fault of the actual book.

There are tons of comparisons between Opal & Nev and Daisy Jones, and I won’t say that’s incorrect. Both are interview-style “where are they now?”-types of stories based on musical acts of the 60s/70s. I actually found Songs in Ursa Major to be much more Daisy-like. But to compare The Final Revival of Opal and Nev to anything else doesn’t do the book justice… and this coming from a girl who absolutely fell in love with Daisy Jones and pretty much anything els TJR writes. But Opal, now Opal falls into a league quiet truly her own.

"Why are you so deeply invested in proving I'm scared? Does a Black person showing they're scared make you feel safer? I suggest you sit back and interrogate that."

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev isn’t just a cool glimpse into an incredible era of music. It’s a case study in racism, both implicit and explicit, and the actions we take in response to racism, or the lack thereof. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and in many ways, that’s apparent in this book.

As a white person, a book like this really makes me question if I would’ve been any different than the characters in the book. It’s the hope that I’d be better. These implicit actions and inactions are the ones that drive and develop a racist system and society. So reading books like this one allow me to evaluate myself and my own line of thinking and doing.

Outside of the super serious topics, I found Opal to be completely fascinating. She’s an inspiration and aspirational. Bright and bald, Black and beautiful. She kick-ass and fierce and lets no one control her.

Don’t let the ballad of Daisy Jones and the Six overshadow The Final Revival of Opal and Nev. While I really did love the overall book of Daisy’s story, Daisy herself doesn’t hold a flame Opal.

This book is absolutely incredible, without a doubt. The fact that it’s a debut novel is truly mind-blowing.

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