“Anyone who knows me knows the best way to ensure I do something is to tell me I can’t.”
Those words definitely describes AJ Mendez Brooks, who takes the reader through her life in her book “Crazy Is My Superpower” (Crown Archetype Books, 2017). Her book covers not only her time in the wrestling ring, but also how she overcame adversities through a rough family life and her struggles with bipolar disorders.
Brooks writes about her early life as a child moving from several apartments after being evicted due to her parents failures to pay rent and the normal bills, to living with friends and family members houses or apartments (with her whole family living in one room). She describes her parents marrying and having children at a young age as one reason for her growing up fast without a normal childhood, moving to motels and dealing with her father’s drug and alcohol abuse, along with getting toys that were brought home from the dumpsters.
Brooks , however, does not make the reader feel sorry for her upbringing, but ads some great humor in the book, such as the time she was in grade school and writes about her early story-time experience at school. She writes that “The only story-time experience I have ever enjoyed was last year, when I swiped Stephen King’s Cujo off my 1st grade teacher’s desk and began reading it out loud during recess.”
Brooks writes in most of the book how she found out her mother was bipolar, but they refused to discuss it, nor get treatment for it. It was only later that Brooks found out that she herself was bipolar as well.
Brooks writes about how she overcame her pre-wrestling days by having good grades that landed her into a prestigious college, only to find out her mother spent the money that Brooks was saving for the admissions fee. She talks about how her brother and sister ended up leaving the family after they graduated high school in order to get away from the lifestyle, leaving her to try and care for her family while chasing her dreams of school.
If the reader is looking for a normal wrestling biography, this is not the book. The majority of the book talks about her struggles with the disease, while at times, using humor or references to Pop Culture, such as comic book characters like The X Men, Harry Potter, and other 1990s TV Shows like “Buffy The Vampire Slayer.” However, there is several chapters on her stay at the WWE’s Developmental League in Florida (FCW), where she gets several offers to move up to the main roster, only to have it yanked away from her. She ends up staying in FCW so long that she becomes the girl for all the other female wrestlers to have their matches with before they moved up to the main roster. She writes that she was so in love with her dream of being a wrestler that “Day in and day out, every second not sleeping or eating” was focused on wrestling or watching wrestling tapes in Florida.
Once Brooks made it to the WWE, she was put in storylines with Kane, Daniel Bryan, and future husband CM Punk, and discussed how management thought she was not only too small, but not marketable, where she ended up being so popular she became one of the top selling wrestlers in the company for merchandise. She writes briefly about when she and Punk started dating after being thrown together in a storyline, along with their friendship before they started dating, and finally their wedding where she writes, “And the rest of the story is just for us.”
Brooks discusses her friendship with former wrestler Kaitlyn (real name Celeste) and Brooks’ decision to retire after several injuries. She also tells stories of her love for animals, along with advice for women on various subjects via journal entries.
Normally the lack of wrestling stories would distract me from the book, but Brooks is such a great writer and combines humor into a serious topic that the book is wonderful. The book deals with someone embracing the disease and conquering it as best she could, along with overcoming her background without making the reader feel sorry for her (although it’s a wonder how she made it through some of her childhood). This book is a great tale of overcoming obstacles and ending up on top of the world, no matter how big the dream may be. Even if you are not a wrestling fan and have no idea who AJ Mendez Brooks is, this is a book that keeps the reader turning each page without slow spots in the book. Maybe Brooks will write more books in the future (maybe with more wrestling stories), because she has the talent to be just as successful a writer as she was a wrestler.
“Crazy Is My Superpower” is available now at any bookstore and online sites.