STARRED REVIEW
May 2021

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Dawnie Walton

You may think you know a thing or two about the music industry, but it’s clear that debut novelist Dawnie Walton knows a thing or two more.
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You may think you know a thing or two about the music industry, but from the opening pages of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, it’s clear that debut novelist Dawnie Walton knows a thing or two more.

Walton spins the story of Opal Jewel, a young Black woman from Detroit who has rock ’n’ roll aspirations. Opal meets British singer-songwriter Nev Charles at an open-mike night, and after deciding to make music together, they start to ascend the rungs to rock stardom. But when a concert tragically ends in racial violence, they disappear from the spotlight.

Years later, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton, who’s spent her life unwillingly linked to Opal and Nev’s story, decides to curate an oral history about them in time for a hopeful reunion. When Sunny’s interviews unveil the truth behind the group’s troubled past, it seems like this story of a band lost to time may end in disaster.

While the novel’s interwoven voices and oral history format will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones & The Six, a more apt comparison would be to Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad, as its perspective makes it both timely and prescient. Through viewpoints that leap from Opal, Nev and Sunny to Opal’s family members, readers begin to understand the band’s glamorous, tragic story from every angle.

Music is at the heart of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, and Walton makes us love these musicians in the same way that we love our favorite bands. She uses this love to dig deeper, grappling with racism and other sinister themes to reveal the true essence of rock ’n’ roll. It’s not just about sex and drugs and parties; it’s a way to express the complexity and sadness of our everyday lives. Using music to cope is glorious and human, and Walton doesn’t just cope—she triumphs.

 

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Debut novelist Dawnie Walton discusses the legacy of Black women in rock and the strange ways that music moves us—just a few of her pieces of inspiration for The Final Revival of Opal & Nev.

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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

Dawnie Walton
37 Ink
ISBN 9781982140168

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