4 out of 4 stars
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I have just finished reading Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands by Jorge P. Newbery. This book is about his rise and fall as a young entrepreneur, starting out in Los Angeles and spreading throughout the United States. With Jorge beginning as a paperboy and continuing on to various real estate ventures through to present day, it definitely made for an intriguing read! I imagine that it must be hard to write about oneself, but I feel that Jorge did a good job, outlining his flaws and attributes at the very beginning of the book. Laying yourself bare for the whole world to see would be hard for anyone to do. It’s almost like a train wreck that you can’t look away from.
Jorge excellently portrayed his drive and need to be challenged and excel at every turn. I could almost feel how determined he was to keep succeeding at every new venture he decided to tackle. Seeing the difficulties that he ultimately ended up facing along the way, whether fair or unfair, made it hard not to feel discouraged right along with him. Although he had great support system through his family, one couldn’t help but feel bad for him.
There were a couple of things about the book that I didn’t care for. While he talked about being half Hispanic and half white, it was easy to understand that he did encounter some racial difficulties due to his ethnicity. What I didn’t like was when the book seemed to spiral into a racial hotbed, where Jorge talked about the unfair treatment of blacks during the time period that the book was written. While I do feel that some of the racial verbiage was necessary for particular parts of the story, it almost felt like an offshoot that didn’t belong in the story at all. One unfair statement that I came across is that only African American males are often falsely imprisoned. While I know this to be true, I also know this to be true of every ethnicity, not just African Americans. I feel like he was trying to use his autobiography to take a political stand. I didn’t feel it fell in with the storyline appropriately.
What I liked most about the book was how he drew the reader in to his story, even with all of the trials and tribulations. I find that reading autobiographies can be a personal experience if written and edited well. This book was very well written, with no apparent grammar errors. I would give this book 4 out of 4 stars, even with my personal feelings about the political and racial portions of the story. I would recommend this book to mature audiences, as I don’t feel it would hold the attention of a younger crowd.
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