4 out of 4 stars
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Burn Zones is Jorge P. Newbery’s autobiography that tells about his unique, almost fictional-seeming life as an entrepreneur. Throughout his life, he has entered many “burn zones”: moments when you feel discomfort, but are still capable of so much more. In this book, he explains how he endured these hurdles and how they have benefitted him. His unique childhood is inspiring and entertaining, and his unwavering dedication to anything he sets his mind to is motivating. He tells many life lessons, covering topics not only about success, but also about social oppression, racism, and questioning the authorities. As he recalls his successes, he reveals the pure dedication and hard work that had gone behind it, which I believe is an important step that often many success stories leave out. Newbery’s writing is very eloquent, and throughout the book, he manages to share his awe-inspiring life story without coming across as arrogant.
Newbery started his money hustling from a young age, displaying more determination and commitment than the average kid. He takes the initiative to sell ice cream on a trike, work as a busboy for a local college, and eventually start his own record label. Along the way, we learn that Newbery was a social outcast, and catch an interesting glimpse of his days working with punk rockers from the 80s. From an early age, he understands that things are not always as the authorities say it. By 16, he has already completed his GED and decides to drop out of high school to focus on his record label. He eventually moves on from the punk stage of his life, but as he grows older, he retains a consistent work ethic and set of morals. A few pictures are also sprinkled throughout the pages, which bring truth to his unusual childhood.
I would give Burn Zones 4 out of 4 stars. The book is very inspiring, interesting, and overall, a worthy read. It’s meticulously edited, and I only found one minor typo in the entire book. My favorite aspect of the book was how Newbery was okay with admitting his failures. There are several places in his life where he admits that in hindsight, there was probably a better course of action he should’ve taken. I also enjoyed how this book shared themes outside of money-making, like social oppression. He sheds light on the dire issue and speaks up for minorities. His non-traditional outlook is very thought-provoking and I enjoyed reading through his lens. Although this book is smoothly written and there were many engaging parts, there were a few sections that, in my opinion, were a bit confusing or dry. In the second half of his book, Newbery talks about his life as a mortgage broker and eventually as the CEO of the American Home Preservation. Both sections used jargon that I didn’t quite understand, which made it less interesting to learn about compared to his unique childhood. Yet, I believe that these sections are necessary to the book, and Newbery does an adequate job of explaining the processes and terms. I would still recommend this book to anyone focused on self-improvement and entrepreneurship, or those who need help with self-motivation, however, I think those who actually understand these terms would be able to enjoy this book to the highest potential.
The book did not contain any erotica, but there are numerous profanities, and since the book brushes upon racism against Hispanics and African Americans, there are a few racist slurs that could be offensive to some. However, I think they were necessary for conveying certain emotions and themes. Since this book contains confusing jargon, as well as themes such as police brutality, incarceration, and adulthood, I would not recommend this book to younger readers. Instead, I think the controversial themes would be perfect for teenagers and older, and of course, Newbery’s outlook on hard work, success, and persistence can be helpful to all.
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