4 out of 4 stars
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Many have remarked that the higher you go, the harder you’ll inevitably fall. How tough then, must it be for someone to go from earning a decent living to over twenty-million dollars in debt? In Burn Zones by Jorge P. Newbery, the author details the trials and tribulations he went through from the tender age of seven up till forty-nine at the time of writing.
The book itself follows a rather common arc, with a gradual build-up of his attempts at being an entrepreneur culminating in his downfall after a natural disaster cost him all that he owned. Faced with heavy debt and seemingly no way out, how does Newbery get back onto his feet following a disaster that would surely prompt most towards thoughts of suicide? What can we apply from his life experiences that can make our own more successful? I could tell you, but then I’d be spoiling this book for you!
There are many reasons to like a story detailing how a man failed before succeeding, but chiefly among them is the organization of this book. Even the most exciting of stories can be butchered by bad presentation, but Newbery has skillfully separated each part of his life story into logically titled chapters. Unlike some biographies that contain cryptic titles for each chapter, the author titles each chapter as a summary of what that chapter is about. This is particularly helpful to those who may have limited time and want to get to the meat of the story immediately.
Another plus is perhaps the author’s down-to-earth tone throughout the book. Especially with autobiographies, when the author relates his/her successes, there is a tendency for egoistic writers to overstate just how accomplished they are, ostensibly to look better to readers. However, Newbery never hesitates to point out his flaws even towards the end, a section some autobiographers use to emphasize just how perfect they are. As an example, in the last chapter, Newbery recounts a time where he was continually purchasing lottery tickets in hopes of making it big that way. However, the only thing he "made" was a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Admitting one’s past indiscretions is certainly a difficult thing to do, but Newbery doesn’t try to bury his mistakes – he instead writes about them so others can learn from them. It is this honesty that I liked about this book.
Overall, I found this book to be an extremely enjoyable read, and hence have decided to award it 4 out of 4 stars. Newbery’s honesty and excellent organization were the main reasons why I found this book so enjoyable, but there was so much more that was likable about this book. As for recommendations, I’d say that this book would be a particularly invaluable resource for anyone who’s encountering a low patch in their lives and want to know how to stay resilient and get out of their predicament. As there were no particularly vulgar or explicit scenes in this book, there wouldn’t be any audiences which I feel that the book will be inappropriate for, though I suppose children may find the author’s journey too dark to enjoy.
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