West Allis Reads

West Allis Reads 2023

West Allis Reads brings our community together to talk about books. Get a copy of our first pick, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton.

About the Book

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.

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices and a bold heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling.

Where to Find the Book

We will hand out a limited number of copies at these locations:

Art on the Plaza, Centennial Plaza and Art Gallery at West Allis City Hall, Sept. 8
West Allis Farmers Market, Sept. 9
West Allis Public Library, beginning Sept. 9

You can check out copies of the book, large-print book and audiobook CD at the library. The award-winning audiobook and the e-book are also available through Libby.

Book Discussions

Saturday, Sept. 16 at 10am: Books & Coffee, Library Join us for coffee, treats and a lively discussion of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev.

Monday, Sept. 18 at 6:30pm: Book Discussion with Mayor Dan Devine, Library The mayor will be on hand for a lively discussion of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev.

Friday, Oct. 6 at 10am: Book Discussion, Senior Center, 7001 W. National Ave. Meet at the Senior Center for a lively discussion of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev. You do not need to be a member of the Senior Center to participate in this program.

Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 6:30pm: Book Discussion, Camino, 7211 W. Greenfield Ave. Head to Camino for a lively discussion of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev. Wednesday specials include build-your-own-mac and Miltown Philly.

Here is a book discussion guide if you choose to hold your own book discussion.

Other Programs Inspired by the Book

Thursday, Sept. 14 at 6pm: Vinyl Shuffle, Record Head, 7045 W. Greenfield Ave. Enjoy record spins of soul, jazz, funk and Motown music while you browse Record Head’s collection and meet like-minded music fans. Light refreshments will be provided.

Friday, Sept. 15 at 3-5pm: Drop-in Oral Histories, Library What was your first or most memorable music concert experience? In the spirit of Opal & Nev, we will collect brief stories from community members. Stop in and share yours.

Wednesday, Sept. 20 at 6:30pm: Promptly: A Writing Club, Library, Ages 16+ Wish you had time to write free from distractions? Join a supportive community of writers at WAPL. Begin stories, true or fiction, using writing exercises inspired by Opal & Nev.

Monday, Sept. 25 at 3pm and 6:30pm: Getting Crafty, Library, Ages 16+ Register for one of two sessions in which we’ll create small journals with cassette tapes. Registration begins Sept. 1 and Sept. 11.

Friday, Sept. 29 at 10am: Intro to Genealogy with the African American Genealogical Society of Milwaukee, Library Get an introductory lesson in learning about your family history. Discover how to start your search and which resources are available to you. Plus, find out challenges specific to African-American genealogy.

Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 6:30pm: Music Bingo, Library, Ages 16+ How well do you know music? Listen to a song clip, look for the title on your card, and mark it. Standard bingo rules apply. We’ll have prizes for winners. Seat dancing encouraged.

Friday, Oct. 13 at 7:30pm: Music Concert: Kitty Soft Paw at Ope, 6751 W. National Ave. Rock out to a mix of soulful originals and covers, from captivating, melodic ballads to high-energy, full-throttle rockers. The library will be on hand before the concert for library card sign-ups and more.

Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 6:30pm: Virtual Q&A with Author Dawnie Walton, Library Join us for a conversation with the author of Opal & Nev! Library Board Member and Alderman Ray Turner and Library Board Member and Librarian Liz Suelzer will ask questions before they turn things over to the audience, so bring your own burning questions about the book, the author’s writing process and more.