book review

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawn Walton

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Publication Date: March 30, 2021

Publisher: 37 Ink

Pages: 368

Genre: Historical Fiction

Trigger Warnings: drugs, racism, misogyny

Rating: 4/5

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev has a similar format to Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid but the stories themselves are vastly different. The book chronicles the early lives of Opal and Nev and then how they each got into music which eventually leads to them combining forces to make an album. However, this story is centered in the hostile 70’s where racial tensions at a concert come to a head when Opal refuses to back down from another artists use of the confederate flag. This confrontation leads to violence that no one was anticipating and has deadly consequences. Opal and Nev never worked together again after that but forty years later they are about to embark on a reunion tour and a reporter and editor in chief of a music magazine, Sunny, is trying to get the full oral history of everything that happened for both personal and professional reasons. But what Sunny manages to uncover might just shift the truth of what they all thought happened on that fateful day.

I listened to the audiobook of this and it was a wonderful full cast production. I instantly felt a connection to Opal and I loved getting to know her. Actually, the reason I enjoyed this book and loved Daisy Jones and The Six is that they are both stories that come to life and feel so realistic that it’s hard to remember that they are fiction. Walton did a fabulous job of firmly entrenching the reader into every scene and nailed the atmosphere and the tension.

There is a lot of different ideas and themes to this story but what came across universally is the way Opal, as a black woman, was treated in relation to Nev, a white man. This book was at times inspiring and other times heartbreaking and infuriating. It was also clever of Walton to show us Opal and Nev in both timelines. We were able to easily see what the consequences were for both Nev and Opal from that night so long ago. And it was maddening.

The downside to this brilliant book is that it felt like some ideas weren’t fully realized. Upon finishing this book I was a little let down because I wanted more. I could have easily read another fifty to a hundred pages of this book to see different parts of the story unwrapped more. However, this is one of the best debut novels that I have ever read and I can’t wait to see what Walton comes out with next.

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