4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands is a thought provoking memoir. Jorge P. Newbery offers a unique perspective to his readers and walks them through his own life in an engaging way. Readers will find themselves rooting for the author and sharing in his pain. Although memoirs are not my go-to read, I found myself intrigued enough to turn the page every time.
Jorge P. Newbery’s life has had its ups and downs. There have been failures and successes. What makes Newbery so unique is how he plays the game of life. At every turn, the stakes rise, but the man doesn’t blink an eye. If anyone could make a good attempt at staying one step ahead of life, it’s Jorge P. Newbery. Until life strikes back. Newbery had been on top of the world and although he was careful not to let pride get the best of him, he began to feel a little too untouchable. His life begins falling apart around him and no matter which one of his tactics he employs to turn it all around, he watches it all slip between his fingers. Newbery’s values and beliefs are all put to the test, sometimes breaking, sometimes holding true as he falls far from grace. Readers are brought to the very top of the world alongside the very relatable businessman, and go crashing down alongside him.
When I first realized a few pages in that I was reading what could be considered the author’s backstory, I expected to be bored. But I wasn’t. This is because of the way the author describes where he came from and puts together the events in his life that shaped him, he gives the readers the details we need, but sums up what can be summarized. Things in the author’s life seem to change so fast, moving from busboy to record labels in what feels like only a few pages. As a reader, I felt included in the author’s life in a way few writers can do. I not only learned the abstract of Newbery’s life, his jobs and hobbies, I was trusted with knowing that his parents were considered gypsies, and took no offense to the supposed slur. Newbery also didn’t seem to discriminate with the information he shared. He wrote about not only his successes but also loses, learning from them and passing his newfound wisdom on to his readers.
I have no critiques for this memoir. I expected to have to plow through slow parts, or perhaps get lost in vocabulary I didn’t recognize, but at no time did Jorge Newbery leave his readers behind.
Burn Zones was a compelling read, one that I would recommend to anyone. Specifically, college students would benefit, or anyone experiencing life’s ups and downs. All in all, I would rate this memoir at four out of four stars.
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