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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
Historical fiction

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

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by Dawnie Walton

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Quick take

For fans of Daisy Jones & The Six: a rollicking tale with equal parts rock 'n' roll and Black feminist punk spirit.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Acclaim

    Critically acclaimed

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Buzzy

    Buzzy

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Writerlife

    Writer's life

Synopsis

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.

Provocative and chilling, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev.
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

EDITOR’S NOTE

Disclosure: My father, a drummer named Jimmy Curtis, fell in love with Opal Jewel in the summer of 1970. For the duration of their affair he was married to my mother, who in ’71 got pregnant with me. Before my birth, before the world had a chance to know much about my father beyond these facts, he was beaten to death by a racist gang during the riot at Rivington Showcase. And before my mother could bury his broken body, his mistress blazed to stardom.

This is a personal history that, throughout my life, I have taken significant pains to conceal. In my twenty-five years as a journalist, I’ve never needed to lean on it. I got here under my own steam—toured the world’s most dazzling arenas with U2; won awards for following funny money raised by benefit concerts; even interviewed artists who, oblivious of my connections, cited Opal Jewel and Nev Charles, together and solo, as their heroes: Santigold, the White Stripes, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, to name just a few. All this work I’ve compiled as S. Sunny Shelton, the name I put to legal papers on my eighteenth birthday. My chosen name—this hard-earned byline—cobbles together the first initial of my birth name, my favorite word as a child, and the Philadelphia street where the umber facade of my maternal grandmother’s row house decays, flake by flake. You could say that every decision I’ve made to divorce myself from the violent birth of Opal & Nev has been like this: intentional, and a touch paranoid.

So, you ask, what the hell am I doing now, writing the foreword for a story I swore I’d never tell? I could justify my involvement in this project by explaining that the internet and cable news have changed the game for journalists, stretching the boundaries of what’s possible and upending all the rules we thought we knew. I could tell you that in this new era, readers and television audiences now accept, even expect, a flavoring of bias.

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Why I love it

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev: From page one of this fictional story written as a series of interviews, I felt like I was right there watching everything unfold. I had to keep reminding myself that the characters weren’t actually real-life rock stars and that I couldn’t look them up online!

Meet S. Sunny Curtis. She’s an award-winning writer and editor-in-chief with complicated ties to famed musician Opal Jewel. And who is Opal? She’s a singing icon who is unapologetically herself and one-half of the short-lived duo, Opal & Nev. When Sunny begins her research, there are still questions swirling about what happened between Opal & Nev and rival band the Bond Brothers all those years ago. I admire S. Sunny Curtis’s determination and bravery as she explores the story she swore she would never pursue. And when she uncovers a new revelation, the narrative changes forever.

This gripping novel reads like an exposé and a tribute at the same time. I couldn’t put the book down as I kept learning more about the whole cast of characters who share their personal stories as well as their varying perspectives on what really happened. An unforgettable page-turner, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev is a uniquely-written examination of racism, family tensions, the music industry, and American society of the 1970s.

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Member ratings (11,464)

  • Danielle V.

    Chicago, IL

    i loved this book! it sat on my shelf for over a year but i’m so happy to finally pick it up. touching on racism and sexism in the late 60s to present day. such a great story! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Katie M.

    Jersey City , NJ

    I LOVED Opal and wanted more of her! The book overall was very good but I found myself reading it so slowly—the “editors notes” parts in particular slowed me down. I’m between love and like for this 1

  • Yara N.

    Dresher, PA

    While I had trouble getting into this at first, it is ultimately exquisite. Absolutely wonderful. It makes me want to change my previous “love” ratings to “like” because this story surpasses them all

  • Amanda K.

    Virginia Beach, VA

    Absolutely captivating. The writing makes you feel as though you’re part of a crowd watching Opal perform. I was so caught off guard - and enraged - by the twist in the story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Hilary P.

    Covington, LA

    When it is heartbreaking to make the big decisions… when you need to stand up for something bigger than you… when you find hope in the strangest of places, you may be reading about Opal and her world.

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