4 out of 4 stars
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Based on the life of Jorge P. Newbery, the author, an Argentine-English who grew up in America. Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands, takes us through the journey he travelled from the time he was seven until the book was completed.
Burn Zones are “short periods of extraordinary effort that separated the winners and losers”. This definition is true to the main character’s beliefs where determination, risk taking and always going for what he wanted was second nature to him, so winning was a priority. These characteristics resonated with those of his grand-uncle whose name he was given, who had courage and was bold in his many feats in life, which included being a celebrated athlete.
Jorge was not one to be indecisive regarding life choices, he tried all he set his mind to, from delivering newspapers to being a busboy at very young ages. He would get bored easily, so school to him was mundane and not challenging enough. Hence, he decided get his GED at 16 to become a business mogul, with his parents supporting his choice. This made him fearless and confident in his plans. However, he did still face issues of racial discrimination even though he was not fully part of the minority, which made him struggle with identity and fitting in. This did not slow him down as he believed putting in the work no matter how little and ample research was all it took, which is shown in his cycling days. Although he succeeded most of his life, he hit a snag due to being on the wrong side of someone in power, however, he bounced back. He did not let the obstacles hinder the success he dreamt of as failure was always his biggest fear.
Some most liked things would be how he gave reference to the Spartan lifestyle regarding his thrift ways which is understood by having knowledge of Spartan ways. I also appreciated the mention of issues ignored about the police killing people of colour and those seen as the minority, due to being considered threats even in none threatening situations, and how it all related to him. I also liked that he referred to stereotyping which he debunked by attributing his reasoning to first-hand experience, namely the incident at the Punk concert. "I was paying for dreams past and could not afford new ones", a quote from the book I liked which rings true to how people live their lives drowning in debt to cater for a life they cannot afford yet fail to achieve newer dreams. I liked that he showed us that having the government pitted against you, leads to undoubted failure as seen in the downfall he never forgets. Reading the quote by Nelson Mandela felt serendipitous which I liked a lot because when I read the book it was Nelson Mandela day. Lastly, I really liked that Jorge added pictures, quotes, lyrics and readings from books to solidify events mentioned as well as to show the wonderful family dynamic he had grown up in.
However, the one thing I did not like most was the writing of places using short-hand namely ‘Calif’ which would be a disadvantage to readers not well versed in American cities.
All the above leads me to give this book 4 out of 4 stars, because of its brilliance and engaging writing style, which led to my not being able to put it down. I would recommend that those looking for growth and inspiration read this book, as it is not only fun but an educational read.I would also recommend that those who do not like genres that include biographical content not read this book. All in all, it's a must read and I highly recommend it.
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