Jamaica Magazine

Book Review: "HEY JOE" (Jamaica Series)

About the Book
HEY JOE is the first book in the Jamaica Series by Jerry Beller. It is an adventure story about an American named River Adams who moves to Jamaica, totally absorbing himself into the local culture. Most the young Jamaican males, and some not so young, refer to him as Joe, often starting the conversation with “Hey Joe”. River does not like being called Joe. He is living here and is not a tourist passing through for a couple of days and then gone. He moved here to write a book. He did not bring anybody with him. He refuses to let anybody from America visit him. He is here to experience Jamaica like a Jamaican, and not a rich one at that. Each day is a great adventure for River, both with the story he is writing, but also in his travels each day around the Portland Parish. He falls in love with both nature and the people of Portland. Portland is the most peaceful, least developed and most beautiful parish in Jamaica. River does his best to get to know every square inch of land in Portland and beyond, while also attempting to meet every person in the parish. While some bigots inevitably hate him, he makes many lasting friendships and leaves a mark on the area. Nature humbles him as he witnesses great storms, rain that drops out of the sky like the ocean turned upside down, magnificent rainbows, daily sunrises and sunsets, winds that makes him fear he might get blown off the island, tropical heat in abundance and beauty everywhere he looks. River frequents all the local hangouts, including Winifred Beach, purposely steering clear of most the tourist hangouts. In his daily travels, River meets a wide array of amazing characters among the Jamaicans. This book is about River becoming more than just another Joe to the people around Port Antonio.


This is a wonderful book about an American who moves to Jamaica. The guy’s name in the story is River, so I thought it was hilarious the way Jamaicans kept calling him Joe when they met him. River is very philosophical and dedicated to writing a book, spending a lot of time alone with nature and hanging out with Jamaicans instead of tourists. It is a lovely story about a young man who drops out of American society to get to know himself. I found his deep thoughts to be intriguing and his overall adventure to be nothing short of spectacular. In his mind, he is the happiest, most content man in the world. I found this easy to believe, as page after page was about him writing with bliss, meeting marvelous Jamaican characters and moving as a unique free spirit. If you have ever been to Jamaica or just like a good adventure, I cannot recommend this book enough. I laughed at several of the predicaments the main character got himself in, and was impressed with the ease that he handled them. It is a story about an American that goes native and becomes a Jamaican. The author, Jerry Beller, does a good job of turning a white male American into the minority and foreigner. I was fascinated with the way River stood up to some pretty menacing bigots in the area, but also with how genuinely he seemed to love some of the Jamaican people he met. Excellent book! – By Sanju (via Amazon)

I can’t start to describe how much I enjoyed this book about a young man who moves to Jamaica in an attempt to escape the life as he knew it. His disillusion with the politics and the way of life of his own country-folk prompts him to seek a new way of life and entirely different surroundings. He comes to Jamaica not as a tourist, but as an open-minded young man willing to learn, to absorb, to adapt to the new ways. Throughout this first part of his journey he changes in some subtle ways, but at the same time he remains true to himself, loyal to his principles and convictions.

This is the story of a remarkable young man, but at the same time it is the story of Jamaica, presented to us so skilfully that one feels like walking Port Antonio downtown and the beaches, riding the hills on the motorcycle or negotiating the bad roads in the car, swimming the difficult parts of the ocean just to prove one’s strength or writing briskly to the sounds of the wonderful tropical rain.

Along with River I got to discover the true Jamaica. Not the one presented to the tourists, but the true country, with its sad history and its struggle of the modern day living, from the local society and would-be aristocrats to the wonderful folks of the downtown. Along with Rivers I got to meet great friendly people, to stand up to a few bigots and bullies, to flirt or being flirted by all sorts of beauties and maybe even to fall in love with one mysterious local girl.

This dive into the different foreign culture was thrilling, wonderful, priceless and I sincerely hope that the next book will be released sooner than promised. I want to know more about River and Jamaica and their mutual adventure. – By Zoe Saadia (via Amazon)

About the Author
Jerry Beller was born in Texas and raised in Norman, Oklahoma. He attended the University of Oklahoma. Following college, he lived in Nashville, Washington DC, Port Antonio, Jamaica, Florida, before he and his family settled in Atlanta, Georgia.
Beller was the founder of the JAMERICA AAU BASKETBALL ACADEMY in Atlanta where hundreds of boys and girls have groomed their basketball skills since the late 1990’s. Beller is proud of numerous championships over the years and such achievements, but is most proud that Jamerica remains more like a family than just an AAU club. The club is still going strong today, although a new generation is starting to take over Beller’s many duties with the academy, including his son and daughter.
Today, Beller spends his time writing novels and screenplays, but also still helps out with the basketball club when possible. He and his Jamaican wife of 24 years travel together whenever possible, sharing a great love for reading, writing, adventure, travel and each other.

Where to buy the book
Hey Joe (Jamaica Series)  can be purchased on Amazon.com

About the author

Staff Writer