4 out of 4 stars
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Jorge P. Newbery’s Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands portrays a man’s enduring resilience within a damaging and competitive world. Throughout his memoir, Newbery reminds readers of the power of perseverance, determination, and optimism. Newbery reports on his life in an engaging manner such that the reader is drawn into the relatable nature of his social and financial struggles. Readers simultaneously stand in awe of the sensational success he obtains across athletic and entrepreneurial domains. Newbery’s account of dreams, setbacks, and accomplishments, from childhood to adulthood, is a must-read story for anyone questioning their ultimate personal and professional decisions.
Newbery presents a well-written memoir with consistent themes of personal drive, social justice, and family support. Burn Zones begins with a definition of the physiological, mental, and cognitive experience of going through a “burn zone.” Newbery first describes the term with references to competitive cycling. This initial definition aptly orients the reader to pushing through pain in order to gain strength and speed necessary to overcome a seemingly impossible challenge. Newbery uses the term “burn zones” later in his memoir to illustrate the insatiable drive he has to succeed across athletic and business enterprises. He addresses his own perseverance through burn zones, as well as the perseverance his mother and father modeled for him as an adolescent and adult. Newbery shows readers a glimpse of the gritty stereotypes he and his family faced in Los Angeles and how his parents were strong examples of social justice beyond racial and economic barriers.
Newbery shows readers his experiences as both spectator and participant in historically significant social justice events. He presents the sorrowful and maddening account of living beside and within groups of maligned and forgotten people in Los Angeles, Columbus, and Cincinnati. As he exits childhood, adolescence, and cycling, Burn Zones becomes Newbery’s treatise on political, financial, and social injustice in the United States. He takes a remarkably candid approach to describing his own role in many social and financial crises. Readers are thereby given some insight into Newbery’s conscience and battle with his own burn zones, particularly in moments of unfair but realistic and relatable attacks from more powerful political and physical foes. Newbery fights against dualism in insurance and grant-funded real estate, city gentrification, and uncontrollable weather circumstances.
Throughout the memoir, Newbery also continues to show more intimate views of his social life. He frequently references family, particularly his parents, and the unconditional support they provided through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Newbery’s family serve as energy fueling his ride through burn zones. Emotional moments in the memoir are often connected to family and Newbery’s limited social network. Readers encounter Newbery’s perspectives on finding and maintaining social connections, particularly through his father’s illness and dying wish to return to Argentina. Newbery’s relationships with his father, mother, and brother change as he faces the reality of life truly ending. Readers are witnesses to Newbery opening his mind to new definitions of success as he struggles to identify his own social competence in socially corrupt circles. Burn Zones shows readers the path of a man whose life changes as he acknowledges his innate and righteously motivated ability to advocate for ethical and treatment of himself and others. In the end, Newbery finds a life of inspiring entrepreneurship and love, with a partner and his family by his side. I would have liked to see more of Newbery’s narrative address his partner and the development of his relationship with her.
I give Jorge P. Newbery’s Burn Zones 4 out of 4 stars. Burn Zones deserves this rating because it is a well-written, motivating memoir that covers personal and professional success within settings of contemporary social injustice. Few memoirs present such a candid account of traditional success and failure alongside intimate relationships and changing interpersonal dynamics. I highly recommend Burn Zones to all readers interested in a true story of resilience and determination.
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