4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones by Jorge P. Newbery is an inspiring autobiography of an American entrepreneur. From his first job delivering newspapers, through his career in multimillion-dollar real estate development, Newbery's energy and attitude propel him from one project to the next. Each new endeavor in his life is met with the belief that he has the ability to accomplish his goals.
Newbery chronicles his California childhood and his constant drive to try new things. He began delivering newspapers at age seven, and by age 11 he had his own ice cream business. Seventeen-year-old Newbery produced punk rock albums and promoted concerts. At 19, Newbery took up long-distance cycling and progressed to top-level competition. It was during that time that he picked up the concept of "burn zones", describing periods of difficulty like an uphill climb that must be endured to bring about reward or change. Starting with answering phones for a mortgage company, Newbery's drive and ambition lead to a multimillion-dollar real estate development business. His method of buying distressed property and then moving in and engaging the tenants in its restoration is truly inspiring. Ultimately Newbery was hit with a "burn zone" that threatened to collapse everything he had built.
Newbery narrates his life story with warmth and ease. This book has the feel of a diary as he relates life events and his feelings about each one. His family's unconditional love and support are truly heartwarming and clearly helped to make him the man he is. His narrative builds on lessons learned in each season of his life as he navigates each new adventure. His story is humbly written, in spite of his great accomplishments. He gives credit, and sometimes blame, to the people with whom he interacted. The second half of the book chronicles the events of the main "burn zone" he experienced and his progress recovering from it. He brings the book to a natural conclusion, with the feeling that there is still much more to accomplish in his life.
What I liked most about this book was Newbery's warm and humble writing style. He came across as a genuine, down-to-earth person the reader might enjoy knowing. The sweeping story was well told and easy to follow. It was interesting to see societal trends over the decades through Newbery's eyes. What I disliked most about the book was the political opinions expressed in the latter half, although these were naturally part of his experiences.
I give Burn Zones a 4 out of 4 stars for an engaging and inspiring
autobiography. His story gives a face to some economic and political events of recent years that may give the reader a different perspective. I think anyone who enjoys autobiographies, as well as a good underdog story, would enjoy this book.
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