4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands is an autobiography by Jorge P. Newbery about his foray into the business world and his successes and failures. A burn zone is a difficult time in an athletic pursuit when the muscles of an athlete are burning and the athlete has to push through. The author equates this to difficult times in his life. He begins with his job as a paperboy at the age of seven, then progressing to selling ice cream from a bike with a freezer. As he grows older, he progresses to other jobs, including being a busboy, until he owns a performing stage and recording company at the age of seventeen. Even though he drops out of high school, he has business acumen and a knack for making money. Eventually, he decides to become a world-class biker, where his career takes him to Mexico in 1988. After being disillusioned when participating in a world-class biking meet, he moves on to the mortgaging business making lots of money and learning about loans and properties. He goes on to own thousands of properties, rehabilitating them until 2005 when a natural disaster caused him to go nearly bankrupt. After licking his wounds, he founded American Homeowner Preservation, which helps families whose homes are being foreclosed stay in their homes.
This was a very accessible book and was very easy to read. There are no explicit scenes to worry about in the novel. There was some profanity and there were racial slurs in the story, as the author did address racial issues. For readers who are sensitive to these topics, it may be best to avoid this book.
The thing I liked most about this book is the story that the author had. I just thought it was so interesting. For someone to have lived this much life is just amazing. I also loved the type of business he was in. The American Homeowner Preservation company helps people stay in their homes by buying the loans on their homes and then selling them back to the homeowners at a much lower cost. It allows homeowners to stay in the home. I don’t normally hear about socially conscious business owners and it seemed like a lot of the author’s businesses were socially minded.
The thing I disliked most was that there were certain parts of the story that he kept out of the book. According to the book, he was $26 million in debt at one point, but large portions of it had been dismissed in court. The novel did not address these court cases. I was so bummed! I don’t know if there’s a gag order or a non-disclosure agreement so that he can’t talk about the court cases, but I think that should have been a part of the story. Even though I feel this way, it didn’t detract from the book.
Overall, I liked this book a lot. I would recommend it to any budding entrepreneur or business person. It was a look at a business from a different perspective and watching someone pick themselves up after they failed was a really good thing too. I could also tell that Mr. Newbery is a positive person, and that was delightful. I am rating this book 4 out of 4 stars.
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