4 out of 4 stars
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Jorge P. Newbery was a normal kid but with greater aspirations than some of the most successful people. At age seven, Jorge convinced the local newspaper to let him deliver newspapers every day. Then he convinced a rival newspaper to let him deliver their papers. Jorge describes the experience as 150% of the work with 200% of the pay. At age eleven, he bought an ice cream tricycle and started his first business venture. Several ventures later, Jorge had become a professional cyclist where he learned the phrase that would become the title of this book: Burn Zones.
A burn zone is a part of the cyclist’s route that is difficult to overcome. Jorge’s approach toward burn zones is inspiring. He knows that the reward at the finish line is worth all the pain and anguish needed to get there. By the middle of Burn Zones, Jorge is a successful entrepreneur. He had bought and renovated hundreds of properties and had set his eyes on a particularly demanding property. Woodland Meadows, a 1,100-apartment residence, was rife with crime and nearly derelict. Jorge set out to restore it with the help of the local manager, John Gregory. The two succeeded in their plans, but disaster struck during a freak ice storm. Jorge was about to enter the longest and hardest burn zone of his life.
Financial strife defined the next few decades of Jorge’s life, however, he was optimistic about what lay in his future. The second half of Burn Zones is about Jorge’s climb to financial security. I was astonished by the things Jorge had accomplished in his lifetime. Through the experiences as a paperboy, ice-cream salesman, and ultimately, an advocate of the poor, Jorge had an impressive resume. He had presented himself with dignity and integrity through all the challenges he faced. He was also transparent about the experiences he had while undergoing the hardships at Woodland Meadows.
Perhaps my favorite part of Burn Zones is how deep Jorge dives into the worst part of his life and relays it so beautifully on paper. The turmoil of losing billions of dollars must be debilitating, and Jorge describes it as no less than that. It is hard to imagine what it would be like to go through that kind of mental torture, and yet I felt like I was there beside Jorge as he watched “Bend It Like Beckham” over and over again hoping that he would come out good in the end.
I felt that there was no true downside to this book. The book is fairly mild in its language, with only a few curse words and only because Jorge was quoting N.W.A.’s famous song from their album “Straight Outta Compton.” Burn Zones was not an offensive book by any means; it was as straight edge as Jorge lived his life. Jorge has a captivating writing style that feels real and believable. I believe that anyone could read this book and benefit. I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars.
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