4 out of 4 stars
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I was very impressed by writer Jorge P. Newbery’s work: “Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands”. He does a masterful job of weaving the story of his life into a relatable and lesson packed book. I found it very intriguing and embarrassingly difficult to put down.
Newbery’s definition of a “burn zone” is the pinnacle event during an athletic competition that challenges the athlete to break through. He claims it separates the winner from the loser. He should know: he has been a lifelong competitor in several different areas. He uses this as a metaphor for all the challenges we face in life.
“Burn Zones” chronicle’s the author’s life from his pre-teen years through midlife. He recounts key events and the lessons he learned from each. Whether the event was categorized as a success or a failure, Newbery had the rare insight, from the time he was very young, to take a step back to see what he could glean from each incident.
What I liked most about the book was the writer’s ability to write and share his story in a very inspirational way. As he wrote about his successes and wins, I thought about my own. As he wrote about challenges, I recalled my own. As his story progresses and things looked hopeless, I recounted my own times of feeling hopeless and helpless. As he neared the end of his story, it made me contemplate my own life story and wonder how I could best position myself for success. He made me take another look at my life and contemplate when and where I could take responsibility for some of the poor outcomes.
Where I found the writing weakest, especially initially, is the way it leaves the reader on their own to determine the actual purpose behind the writing of the book. As I read, I was excited that he was such having such success in life but scratching my head as to the direction of the book. Also: although there were lessons to be extracted from his journey, it would have been an easier read if he would have pulled them out and highlighted them.
The editing of the manuscript was flawless. I detected no misspelled words and no non-sensible sentences. The writing was very solid and the reader was never left to interpret what writer meant. There are several instances of vulgar language but I felt it was necessary to keep the essence of his story authentic and real.
This book’s audience is definitely individuals who have gone through the difficulties of life and are perhaps still wrestling with the wrongness and injustice of it all. It does not attempt to justify, explain or even balance wrong actions or events. That said, for someone looking for a light read with “Pollyanna” answers, they would not find this book very enjoyable. It is a very intensely "real" read.
Overall I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I would highly recommend setting aside the time to read it. I plan to read it again, soon.
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