Jamaica Magazine

Olympic Gardens – Jamaican Book Review

About the Book:

Olympic Gardens is a coming-of-age story, a powerful evocation of the life of an unwanted boy that grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. Most countries have their celebrity town like York of the British writers and the Trench Town of Bob Marley. This story is important work that has not been done so far in this genre about the town of Olympic Gardens.

By the time Roderick Brissett learns that he is being shipped away from his rural family home to live with his aunt in the city, it is too late. His mother’s decision came without questions or answers. Roderick’s youth is tested under the most adverse conditions. It is within the abyss of such harsh realities that he must find strength and seek some semblance of joy that will help him to survive, grow, and find his place in the world.


Sheron Hamilton Pearson – Reader
Andrene Bonner’s latest offering, Olympic Gardens is a little gem of a book. The protagonist, Roderick is a lesson in resilience and triumph over adversity. The book touches on so many different issues, poverty, displacement, illegitimacy, literacy and education; and above all the indefatigable spirit of a child to look for and (in Roderick’s case) find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

This book should be mandatory reading for every child, not just Jamaican children, but every child – to show that the spirit and will to survive adversity is not an impossibility. The book is delightful for its technique of capturing a time and place in Jamaica when people were more innocent, optimistic about the life that lay ahead after a newly independent Jamaica set out to map it’s own course in history. A time when the music was positive, uplifting and spoke to all Jamaicans. A time when, a poor boy sent away because his very presence was a reproach to his mother, was able to find a fairy godmother and good friends to alleviate his pain and suffering.

This book is one that you MUST buy, if you are a parent, read it with your children, if you are of a certain age, read it and remember how you used to live, if you are a teen, tween or inbetween, read it for inspiration. If you read it and find yourself wanting more – don’t fret, it’s the first in a trilogy!

A. G. McIntyre – Reader
Olympic Gardens took me back to a time and place that I lived. It captures the scenery, the people, the food, the colors, the culture and the politics of a Jamaica I grew up in and long to recapture. Follow Roderick’s journey from unwanted child to someone who believes in himself because others believed in him. The book is very easy reading. You don’t have to know Jamaican culture to be caught up in Roderick’s life. Roderick represents the underdogs we all know and root for, in the hopes that they do succeed. Olympic Gardens is a book that can be appreciated by all ages as they will connect with the characters. Please give it a read. You won’t be disappointed.


About the Author:      
Andrene Bonner is a Jamaican-born, U.S. based educator, award winning author, producer, director, singer, songwriter, poet, folk life specialist, and an accomplished actress. She holds a Master of Science in Education with Distinction, Master of Arts in Language and Literacy, and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and Dance with an Option in Acting and Directing.

Bonner’s writings have been published in Kapu-Sens: California State University Northridge Literary Journal, Carib Press News Magazine, Café Africana Journal, and will appear in the November 2009 issue of The Caribbean Writer. Her recently published coming-of-age book, Olympic Gardens, is set in Jamaica and tells the story of a young boy’s displacement, literacy, family, friendship, and hope. It received the prestigious 2009 Lorna Goodison Caribbean Award for Transformative Literature on June 14, 2009 at the Tamarind Festival of Caribbean Literature in Washington, D.C. Her collection of poems, Cloud Burst in Major and Minor Chords, is slated for publication later this year. In celebration of the 2009 Caribbean American Heritage Month, she was the featured author on the Organization for American States’—OAS Radio: The America’s Today where she discussed her new book and personal journey. 

Where to Buy the Book:
Available at Amazon.com

About the author

Staff Writer