4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones: Playing Life's Bad Hands by Jorge P. Newberry is an inspirational memoir, sufficient to ignite a fire in anyone! It details the author's endeavours: as an entrepreneur from a very young age; to world-class cycling; then multi-million dollar property operations; through a soul-destroying period of collapse, debt and public shame and eventually out the other side.
Newbery was not born into riches. He even chose not to finish his education. Any success was simply down to the sheer dedication and hard work he gave to his projects, coupled with eternal optimism. His motivation was also to affect positive change in the lives of others, especially those beaten down. The 'Woodland Meadows' acquisition is an example of this and the way he turned around the lives of those most alienated. This beautiful episode and the subsequent drama and ensuing nightmare could easily lend itself to the screen, with no shortage of ideas as to villains!
Soon on, it became apparent that the author's strength of character and attitude were exceptional. He is a stunning example to young people as he always lived a straight-edge lifestyle, not partaking in alcohol, drugs or any sleazy behavior, even when encountering others who did. I liked the way he kept his feet on the ground by continuing to live modestly, despite amassing great wealth and he was a caring son. He was a real estate developer with a heart, something not often the case. I liked how he shared his feelings about some poignant family events that provoke all kinds of emotions, as he takes the reader through the ups and the 'burn zones' of his life. This was a fascinating read which I quickly completed.
Personally, there wasn't much to dislike, except the odd derogatory comment stereo-typing Catholic nuns. (Incidentally, any I have encountered have offered me tea and kindness and not rapped my knuckles!) I wasn't overly keen on the few instances of profanities, but I understand the context. Also, the dangers of someone only seventeen working into the early hours of the morning in a rough area may not work out so well for everyone!
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars, as it was an incredible and well-written story. It seemed professionally edited with only a few errors. Many of Newbery's words of wisdom will stay with me. His life is an empowering example of both ethics and perseverance. It would be helpful to young people wondering how to set themselves up, or anyone else for that matter. There is a strong family theme. Also, the author often addresses the ugliness of racial prejudice as he is half-Hispanic and his future wife and many of his associates and residents are African-Americans. The content is not for younger children but maybe teens and up. It would appeal to those of goodwill, who like the concept of making the world a better place.
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