Think Daisy Jones but better: A review of The Last Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

A copy of The Last Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton, a red hardcover book with a guitar on the front, set on top of my Victrola record player.

Thanks for bearing with me, folx… I am beyond behind on reviews here. I’ve been overbooked (get it πŸ˜‰ I’m all for a good pun!) with ARCs and just great backlog reads that I wanted to take time to do what I love most — read. Now that I’ve cleared up my schedule, I’m hoping to be more consistent with my blogging and catch up on writing reviews to highlight some really incredible books and authors.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love a debut! I think reading and reviewing them is an honor. And when it comes to debuts I’ve read in 2021, The Last Revival of Opal & Nev is definitely top of the list. Dawnie Walton is such a talent, and you better bet I’ll be reading whatever she decides to publish from here on out. Like, she could publish her grocery list, and I’d be all about it!

Quick synopsis: This story follows the infamous rock duo Opal and Nev, nobodies who rose to fame in NYC in the 70s. In 2016, journalist S. Sunny Shelton is curating a collection of interviews from and about them as they prepare for a reunion tour, but a new allegation threatens everything Opal, Nev, and now Sunny have worked for.

Now I’m as big of a Daisy Jones and the Six fan as about anyone else, so I was at first a bit hesitant — this book, while quite different, followed the same oral story format, which I thought may feel too similar to Daisy Jones. But I was definitely wrong — in my opinion, this book shines so much brighter than Daisy Jones. I loved that coupled with the interviews are editor’s notes from the point of view of Sunny. These notes help develop Sunny as equally a main character, next to the titular Opal and Nev, and allowed the present day to become a story of its own, parallelling and moving on from that of Opal and Nev back in the 70s.

Opal, however, was my favorite character. She was bold, imperfect, bright, and brave. I loved how she knows exactly who she is and never tries to be anything she isn’t. Most importantly, she unabashedly stands up for what she believes in.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but what made this book so incredible and truly a step above Daisy Jones is how it shows the effects that white supremacy — and taking a stand against it — has on women of color, and especially Black women. It’s a powerful testament, both sobering yet full of hope. Especially in the context of 2016, when Sunny is performing these interviews and publishing this book. This book took turns I couldn’t have anticipated, and it both sucked me into this fictional story and reminded me of the lengths we still need to go for racial equality in our real-life society.

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