4 out of 4 stars
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The novel, Burn Zones, written by Jorge Newberry is an autobiography in which the author recounts the various successes and downfalls of his life up to the present. His story begins in his childhood when he is first able to discover a passion for working. He recounts the details of the long path he took to amount to a multimillion-dollar career in property ownership. His working life begins at a very young age with delivering the local newspaper and selling ice cream out of a freezer attached to a pawned tricycle. His first experience with success and earning money enabled him to develop a passion for working and led him to tackle bigger and unorthodox pathways to make a profit, including becoming a set manager for punk-rock bands in his adolescent years.
While working at a bike shop in his teens, he discovers a new passion for bike riding and climbs the ranks from novice to elite in a relatively short amount of time with the aid of some research and lots of practice. One day, while on a ride with fellow bike riders, he encounters his first infamous “burn zone” which can be described as the time in which the going gets extraordinarily tough that one must fight through to emerge from. This discovery of how to persevere and push through (in this case physical) pain proves to be extremely useful when he encounters other trying situations also deemed “burn zones” throughout the rest of his life. These so-called “burn zones,” however, don’t have to be related to any form of physical exertion at all, as he faces several during his later work as a loan manager, and then later, a property owner. The uniform classification of these tough times ultimately enabled Newberry to realize the solution was simple; keep going until you’re in the clear.
I found the message of perseverance in this novel to be truly inspiring as well as applicable to many aspects of my own personal life. The book was extremely well-written and appeared to be professionally edited, as I was only able to find a single error in the entire work. This allowed the book to flow and could be easily described as a page-turner. Given the seamless nature of the writing along with the captivating plot, I rate the novel 4 out of 4 stars. As a reader, I found the life Newberry lived to be insightful and thoroughly enjoyed reading about the rollercoaster of trials and tribulations he faced. The novel also brings to light a select few societal issues, that deal mostly with race and discrimination. Newberry does a great job of highlighting, but not overstating, these issues in a mature way that reveals the challenges these issues create during the time period, most of which still exist today.
My favorite part of the novel is the recurring motif of the self-proclaimed “burn zones.” The applications of these moments can be readily applied to various facets of life and provide the reader with a direct connection to both Newberry and the events that occur in the novel. These “burn zones” also give the novel a source of overarching cohesion that the plot was able to circle back to time and time again in order to solidify the events that took place. I found this realization of perseverance to be both practical and enlightening.
On the contrary, the part of the novel I disliked most is relatively minor, as I thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of the plot and how Newberry chose to re-tell his story. In the fourth chapter there is a section where Newberry seems to go a bit off-tangent and highlights a societal issue in a manner such that, although well-written, the placement would have been better served at the beginning of the chapter where the theme was more relevant. Due to the placement of the explanation, it seemed off-topic and was slightly disruptive to the flow of the novel.
Overall, I would strongly recommend this novel to readers who perhaps also like autobiographies (although I believe even readers who typically don’t enjoy autobiographies could still enjoy this read). Given that some of the overarching topics pertaining to societal issues and race may not be grasped fully by younger readers, this read would be better suited for more experienced readers. There is some sporadic use of profanity as well as mature topics that would better appeal to a mature audience as well. The novel altogether, however, is thought-out extremely well and was both entertaining and suspenseful to read. Most importantly, the storyline wraps up nicely to provide the reader with a solid sense of closure and reflection, thus leaving the reader fully satisfied in the end.
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