4 out of 4 stars
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Parents always preach to their children that they should never drop of out school for fear that they won’t become productive members of society without a proper education. All parents should continue to teach this, unless you are the parents of Jorge Newbery. In Burn Zones: Playing Life’s Bad Hands by Jorge P. Newbery, he recounts his life as a high school drop out turned real estate mogul. His passion and dedication is outmatched by none so he turns out to be quite successful in all the endeavors he chooses to pursue, even without a diploma. His dedication comes from his belief that life has “burn zones” that you must overcome. If you outwork others at these most crucial moments, it determines the winners from the losers. However even after amassing over 4,000 properties, real estate is the one area he can’t quite crack or maybe just not in the way he wants to. This sets the stage for his most intense “burn zone” yet. One that would change the direction his life would take.
Newbury captivates readers by infusing his life’s story with insightful anecdotes about the social movements taking place at that moment. He portrays the feelings of that time so readers can understand what it was like to grow up in Los Angeles in the 60s and 70s. He humanizes these historical events, such as the Sunset Riots and the punk movement, that seem to be long forgotten by many younger generations. I especially enjoyed how he referenced punk rock songs and educated the readers as to why the lyrics exuded such anti establishment sentiments.
While illuminating uncomfortable facets of America’s corrupt capitalism, there wasn’t a single part of the book that I disliked. For this reason, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I found it inspirational while also deeply frustrating in the systemic injustices that worked against him. Jorge tries to do social good and makes many steps forwards that, but ultimately ends up being painted as a criminal. I couldn’t help but think that if he was set up to succeed what greater good he could have served our communities.
Who should read this book? Everyone. Not only is it meant for aspiring entrepreneurs that will be energized by Jorge’s optimistic spirit and resourceful thinking, but also developers that need to learn the ways the city governments skirt the system to benefit themselves. Even younger teenage readers can learn something from this book as it shows parts of our history through a more personal lens, which may help them better understand it.
Jorge’s experiences teach some of life’s most valuable lessons like how being a self starter can further your career more than education can in some cases and that ultimately you have to be your own advocate. No one will get you there except yourself, so believe in yourself and get to work.
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