REVIEW: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“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.”

REVIEW:

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev was my March pick for Book of the Month. I have to say I was sucked in from the synopsis alone. Obviously, there is the instant comparison of Daisy Jones & the Six. This book tells such a different story and that is where the similarities end. I loved this book even more than Daisy Jones & the Six.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is filled with fully realized characters, they are all very human with faults. Dawnie Walton manages to weave real life events with her fictional events making for an incredibly believable story. Because it is told in an oral history style it makes it a super easy read, though the topics discussed are not for the faint of heart. I couldn’t put this book down! This story feels authentic and real to the point that sometimes you forget that this is a fictional band.

Opal & Nev reflects both the 70’s and today very well. It shows both the good and the bad, and how much things really haven’t changed. Walton never shies away from tough topics in the book, she fully embraces them and handles them with care. There is a revelation about halfway through the book that absolutely shocked me, and left my mouth gaping open.

If I do have a critique about this book is that sometimes the “editor’s” notes from Sunny’s POV would throw me off. I think they affected the pacing a bit. I would get really sucked into the interview style, and reading about things that happened through each character’s eyes. Then we would have an editor’s notes section and while they were important to the overall story, at times they took me right out.

Overall, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev was so well done, and I can’t recommend it enough. If you loved Daisy Jones & the Six, or are just a lover of music history then this book is for you.

RATING: 4/5

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