4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones Playing Life’s Bad Hands by Jorge P. Newberry is a well-written story that reflects on the author’s life experience by looking at who he was and what he has become.
This nonfiction book introduces Jorge as a smart business minded kid of mixed race origin. His father is a Hispanic architect while his mother is a white actress turned stay-at-home mom. At the young age of seven, he starts earning extra money as a newspaper delivery boy. He drops out of school at 16 to go into business and learn from real-life challenges. He manages to build his own record company then dabbles in cycling. He even joins bicycle races with some of the world’s best. When he tries his hand at real estate, he finally finds his most prosperous and fulfilling venture. By turning around troubled properties, he acquires assets and earns millions of dollars. But in a cruel twist of fate, a natural disaster reverses his fortune and leaves him desperately fighting for everything he has worked hard for.
As a whole, it is enjoyable to read the book since each chapter flows smoothly into the next one. It also helps that the story revolves around relatable themes of triumph against adversity, love of family, fear of failure, and the universal need for shelter. The inserted photographs also effectively add interesting detail and a tangible glimpse into the author’s personal life. I particularly like his photo as a young boy of seven taking a break from his paper route.
What I like most about the book, though, is the author’s innate goodness and admirable strength of character. He relates with others fairly believing that “People typically treat you the way you treat them – it’s human nature, good human nature.” His strength of character enables him to humbly acknowledge that “In the end, though, the decisions that ended up unraveling my life were mine alone.” It is certainly refreshing to hear a person admit his accountability instead of blaming others for his misery.
What I did not like most about the book is the section about the rock bands. Unfortunately, I simply do not know who these bands are, and I find it hard to relate with the author’s enthusiasm about them. This part of the book is unable to fully sustain my interest.
Overall, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The book is well-edited and it has minimal errors. More importantly, it has a strong storyline and a remarkable main character.
I think this book will appeal to most readers particularly those who appreciate inspirational true to life stories. It may not suit people who have decidedly conservative views in life.
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