4 out of 4 stars
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In his memoir, Burn Zones: Playing Life's Bad Hands, Jorge P. Newbery retells the events that led to his epic downfall in the mortgaging world. He begins by recounting the start of his entrepreneur lifestyle at the young age of seven years old, and from there, Newbery grew up constantly trying many different lines of work. From delivering newspapers to starting his own record company, from cycling in Olympic-level marathons to finally settling in financial-based work, Newbery led a life of many challenges. One of those challenges was renovating troubling apartment complexes and communities before it ultimately led to bankruptcy due to legal issues. Despite the humiliation and frustration Newbery experienced during this episode, Newbery rose from the ashes and founded his own company that helped people to pay for their homes so that their houses would not be foreclosed.
One of the aspects that I liked the most about Burn Zones was Newbery’s diligence in constantly referring to past events and people that were important in his life. This constant referral that was flawlessly woven into his present-life story shows Newbery’s morale that he could find a positive learning experience in just about anything that happens in his life. It also reminds readers of Newbery’s background and progress since childhood that motivates him to be the person he is today. Another characteristic I liked most about Newbery’s memoir is Newbery’s thoughts and experiences with racial and social controversies that are still very much prevalent today. In a time where the fight for social justice is on the rise once again, it was refreshing and eye-opening to read Newbery’s point of view on racial injustice toward black Americans that are typically an issue for Americans from Hispanic lineage as well. However, Newbery full-heartedly sympathizes with black Americans and their struggles than feeling self-pity toward his own troubles, and it was very refreshing to read such matters from his perspective.
The only traits I did not like about Burn Zones were how fast-paced the book felt and some of the jargon that was thrown in. As a reader, I personally prefer a book that takes its time in telling a story, whether the book is a work of fiction or nonfiction. Newbery’s retelling of his timeline from his first ice cream wagon to his first job in the mortgage industry is all laid out in the first two chapters of the book and it felt like there was not enough detail. Understandably, the main focus of Newbery’s memoir is his financial downfall, however, I personally felt like there were some details lacking from his childhood and even from his experience in the mortgage industry. Least importantly, there were some cycling and mortgage terms that did not get explanations in the book that I felt would have benefitted in the long run.
Overall, I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. There are not many nonfiction books that I enjoy, but this book was most definitely one of the more enjoyable nonfiction books I have read. There were minimal editing errors and many aspects of the book that positively outweighed my personal tastes in reading.
For lack of a better description, I believe that an older audience with experience in the entrepreneurial world and mortgage industry may enjoy this book. As a young adult, I have yet to fully understand the terms that come with dealing with the mortgage industry, even when I have to look up their meanings. I also believe that anyone who enjoys reading memoirs may enjoy this book as well, just for the simple fact that Jorge P. Newbery’s experiences and thoughts are interesting to read altogether.
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