Plot: Newbery’s memoir stems from a clear thesis about resilience, proceeding rapidly in chronological order, from his entrepreneurial childhood to his adolescent punk and athletic days to his adult life as an investor. The result is a charming, optimistic story of falling down and getting back up again.
Prose: The author’s voice is youthful, fresh, and relatable. The memoir gracefully balances more heavy-hitting reflections and vivid descriptions with light, witty anecdotes.
Originality: Newbery’s story is both personal and inspirational. Integrated photographs lend authenticity and relatability to the author’s search for purpose and direction.
Character Development: Readers gain warm and honest insight into Newbery as an individual. The memoir broadens its focus to include personal and professional friends and associates, emphasizing the role that community plays in one person’s success.
Blurb: Burn Zones is a charming read with an optimistic message about endurance and the potential for individual success, regardless of hardship and unforeseen circumstances.
Date Submitted: June 19, 2018
This book was an interesting self-improvement narrative. Rather than taking us through a five-step guide dealing with failures or a ten-step guide on how to achieve and maintain success, (snore) we are given a simple look at the author’s life and his experiences. It’s a truly awesome teach-by-example scenario, and I learned more about myself reading this book than I have with most other inspirational books out there. Instead of feeling like I had to push through it, I finished it in three hours and then sat on my couch completely encouraged to think that there are actually people like Mr. Newbery out there. They do exist! It probably has something to do with Mr. Newbery’s amazing work ethic and his willingness to discuss his own personal failures and feelings of depression. It might have something to do with his sweet naivete when it comes to him believing and expecting the best from others simply because that is what he expects from himself. I think it mainly has to do with his unfailing positive outlook in the midst of the crisis in his life.
I wasn’t at all surprised that the city officials he dealt with were so sneaky and underhanded. I just sat there shaking my head, knowing that this stuff happens all of the time and wondering how on earth people like Mr. Newbery or myself or countless others who actually treat their fellow man with honesty, integrity and respect could ever fight against dishonest egomaniacs who hold so much power. I think part of Newbery’s message is that you can’t necessarily beat them all. You don’t have control over those in power who talk about resolving all the problems in our government and society, but then resist the efforts of those who attempt to do just that and then continue to behave in a way that adds to the very problems they claim to want to fix. You can only control your actions and hope that those actions will make an impression and better someone’s life. He and those that he worked with accomplished so much good in Woodland Meadows, and though the end results were devastating for himself emotionally and financially, the lives of those people who weren’t given a second chance anywhere else were changed for the better because Newbery believed in them. Think of all of those people who started their own businesses and believed that they were more than what the police or others perceived them to be.
As Newbery stated, people will treat you how you treat them, and I think we can go so far as to say that people will perceive themselves the way you perceive them. So even though the Woodland Meadows complex was a bust in the end, I hope he’ll remember all of those lives he changed for the better.
His take on how different races are treated was new to me. This is where I was naive for so long until I married my Hispanic husband. To me, racism is a thing of the past and civil rights corrected all of that, but apparently there is still quite a bit of hate in this world. My husband dealt with that growing up, and I sometimes worry for my children because they inherited my husband’s beautiful dark mocha skin rather than leaning towards my lighter skin. For me it makes no difference. Their skin could be tinged with purple for all I care because a person is a person. It’s a shame how perceptions are crafted by what we think we know of another culture or race. Mr. Newbery seems to be color blind to all of that while recognizing that most others aren’t. I think most of his attitudes and beliefs are something all of us need to adopt in order to push through our own burn zones and encourage others to do the same. I think the most important thing I took away from this was that we don’t necessarily have to endure our burn zones alone. It’s important to get through them with the support of those we love so that we, in turn, can help them through theirs.
I highly recommend this book to every human being on the planet. Not a very narrow audience to market to, but humanity in general needs a shot of Jorge Newbery’s candid take on life’s challenges and the personal relationships we develop along the way.
A riches-to-rags memoir that offers unique perspectives on business, punk rock, inequality, cycling, and family.
Debut author Newbery has held a surprising assortment of titles throughout his life: a lending mogul, the No. 1 Housing and Urban Development broker in the country, a professional cyclist, a leader in the Occupy Wall Street movement, a ruined businessman, and a key figure in LA’s gritty, early punk scene. As he tells it, each new venture seemed logical, because he always remained the same—a socially awkward but resilient entrepreneur who was committed to what was before him. His incredible work ethic led to success in everything he tried, until he began to buy and revamp some of the most blighted, dangerous properties in the country. What started as challenging work evolved into genuine efforts to improve the lives of those in poor minority communities. Unfortunately, infuriating bureaucracy and insurance companies led to his downfall and crippling debt. In an intriguing twist, the Great Recession of 2008 provided him a path forward when he dedicated himself to helping people who could no longer afford their mortgages. As one might expect with someone so successful, Newbery puts business first, dedicating most of the first half of his story to meticulous overviews of his business dealings, athletic accomplishments, and a particular property that incurred the most debt. His intense focus on these subjects, interesting as they are, leaves readers with little personal information about the author himself or his motivations. However, when he expands on some events in more detail (and in a first-person perspective), he proves to be an observant, witty storyteller. For example, his stories of failed social interactions, as with a group of women who tried to make him dance, have perfect timing and are laugh-out-loud funny. As he uses this technique more often in the second half, he produces insightful, powerful observations about his family and the most important economic issues of our time.
Although it takes some time to get to know him, the author eventually reveals himself to be even more intriguing than his fascinating career.