4 out of 4 stars
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Jorge P. Newbery is a half-Hispanic entrepreneur, investor, and author. In his novel Burn Zones: Playing Life's Bad Hands, he describes his journey from rags to riches to rags across different financial pursuits. As a young boy, he delivered newspapers and sold ice cream. As a teen, he was a biker, busboy, and record producer. As a young adult, he started a mortgage company. As an adult, he invested in real estate and helped homeowners in debt. While money always stirred Newbery to action, he continued because of his deep passion for helping out other people. Newbery has always identified with the underdog, and his actions reflect that fact.
My favorite part about this book was Newbery as a character. His constant quest for new challenges made this book a fast-paced and exciting read. Newbery quickly tires of his previous goals, so he is always bouncing to the next. He is also honest about his successes and failures. He isn't afraid to discuss the millions he's earned or how quickly he improved as a biker, but he also addresses his legal troubles and losses. At tough moments, Newbery does persevere, but also details what physical effects his anxiety caused. While settling a loss with a local court, Newbery recounts how often he gnawed the enamel from his teeth and nearly threw up. These details, while unflattering, helped me empathize with him.
Newbery also discusses racial prejudice and feeling like an outsider in his book. He details how his neighbors used slurs against him and his family, but none of them cared. They had confidence in themselves. Newbery also explores police brutality and racism through his own personal experience. As a real estate investor, Newbery spent a lot of time helping his black tenants develop the property they live in. He listened to the apartment community to ward off aggressive policing and start training programs for tenants to achieve employment. I enjoyed reading how this self-described "loner" came to use his strengths to help other people.
Another great aspect of this book was the pictures Newbery included. The black and white photos made the book feel more reminiscent and real. Seeing young Newbery in Argentina or with his family was really cool.
Ultimately, I would give this book 4 out of 4 stars. There were very few typos throughout. Newbery crafted a convincing and exciting narrative that would inspire any reader to take control of her life and strive to help others. Rather than tapping out when I face conflict, I will now push myself through "burn zones" the way Newbery did.
There is some non-borderline profanity, so I would recommend this book for anyone older than a pre-teen. I would especially recommend it for those who are struggling financially and would feel inspired by a minority role model.
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