4 out of 4 stars
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It is rare that I sit down in one setting and read a book, especially a non-fiction title, but Jorge Newberry’s autobiographical Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands grabbed me from the first sentence. The book begins with a description of how the author pursued and developed his first and subsequent jobs, from a paper route to a busboy, a record producer to a long distance bicycle racer and eventually a real estate investor. Burn Zones describes in detail the Woodland Meadows crisis that caused his financial ruin and the formation of the American Home Preservation.
Jorge Newbery has an irresistible spirit and drive that compels you to keep turning the pages to discover more of his story. Early in his life Jorge was introduced to the song, “I’m Not Down” by The Clash and it became his life anthem. On page 25 Jorge states that, “even as a I child, I enjoyed comeback stories where people overcame diversity and against all odds achieved what they sought." Woven through this fascinating story of resurrection after huge success and incredible failure, is the theme of racism in America and the mistreatment of African Americans. This book ultimately describes the housing crisis America faced in the 2000’s and provides a viable solution for the problem today.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars due to its compelling story and excellent writing. Although there are a few gaps in time in the narrative, the gaps do not impede the flow of the writing or the story itself. This book would appeal most to middle-income Americans affected by the housing crisis or wanting to learn tips to free themselves from their own debt burdens. It is a fascinating read for any adult who enjoys the true story of someone who rises up after experiencing a crushing defeat. Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands has been edited very well and that also contributes to the reader's enjoyment of the book.
What I liked most in this book is Jorge R. Newbery’s voice. His writing is earnest and makes you feel as if you know him as you read through his story. He does not shy away from harsh truths and is candid about discussing his failures as well as his successes. This makes his voice ring true for the reader and encourages empathy for his situation. Jorge R. Newbery could be your next-door neighbor, your former college roommate or your best friend living on the other side of the United States. I also enjoyed the book's ending as it blended beautifully with the tone of the book.
I did not find much to dislike about this book. I did notice the time gaps in the narrative, but they did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. The time gaps did encourage me to wonder how Jorge was spending his time during these missing periods and made me want more information from the author. Overall, I believe this book is an honest life story from a person who has learned how to live again after experiencing defeat and failure and that it should serve as an inspiration for others.
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