4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones is the story of the author Jorge Newbery, a white-passing Hispanic, and his struggles in conquering and overcoming the greatest challenge of his life, a 26 million-dollar debt. The book encompasses around 40 years of Newberys’ life. It begins with his paper route at only seven years old and details the journey into adulthood, through the hardest period of his life. The title Burn Zones is derived from a term he’d used during his time in bicycle racing to describe the, “relatively short periods of extraordinary effort that separated the winners and the losers”.
The introduction does its work effectively. It sets the stage by detailing how, in the midst of one of Newberys’ greatest achievements, a natural disaster initiated a chain of events that soon left him with a 26 million-dollar debt, and a ruined reputation. The book takes its time, choosing to give the reader the chance to get to know the author and what kind of person he is, before recounting the story of his downfall.
The author tells the stories of his earliest jobs and businesses, his athletic career, and even shares a few intimate moments from his family life, touching on the important skills and lessons that each experience taught him and how they affected the way he views the world around him. Newbery also references the music scene he was a part of as a young man, drawing parallels between the social scene and the impact that it had on the subsequent music culture.
I enjoyed Newberys' skilled use of foreshadowing and analogy, the author uses it to build an ever-growing sympathy and concern within the reader throughout the novel. As the book progresses, he leads us gradually towards the climax of the story, expressing fond memories and his regrets each in turn. Through this extremely personal approach, I found myself easily able to relate to the writer as he told the story of each of his “burn zones”.
I have decided to give this book four out of four stars. I enjoyed this book. It was well written and edited, as well as informative. In a few places, I felt as though the author was overusing the title analogy, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book as a whole. I would advise this book to anyone with an interest in business, people, or social crises. Due to the type of subject matter contained, however, I wouldn’t advise it for small children.
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