AJ Mendez Brooks – Crazy is My Superpower Review
A famous comic book once sprawled out “…with great power there must also come – great responsibility,” and of course a self-admitted comic book fan herself, AJ Mendez Brooks took this adage to heart with her new book, Crazy is My Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules. Having tasted a high level of fame in the WWE, Brooks took her pen to proverbial pad and pieced together an autobiography that is triumphant as it is heartbreaking, without once ever attempting to garner pity or attention. In many ways, she sat out to inspire, not seek adulation, and because of this, a wrestler-written autobiography is anything but a gimmick.
Now that the Google description paragraph is out of the way, can we just talk about how much I miss AJ Lee on my damned screen!?! In all seriousness, my excitement for this book was at an all-time high, so much in fact that I went to the bookstore an entire week early thinking it was ready for my greedy little hands. I recall reading Lita’s WWE-produced autobiography, eager to learn the ins and outs of the WWE world and all that she had to do with it, so it should come as no surprise that my 15 year old mind had found solace in her book, even with the numerous spelling and grammatical errors throughout (seriously, what was up with that). 15 years later, and I shamefully had similar expectations with AJ’s book only to find out that this book, simply put, is not for wrestling fans.
Perhaps I should amend that final sentence and make the claim that Crazy Is My Superpower isn’t just for wrestling fans. The truth is, there is much to love with regards to our endearing wrestling-centric world, but this is simply the tracks in which the train known as AJ’s life is traveling upon. I should have known simply by the title – but as us fans usually do, we take the face-value of something and run with it. The title harkens a not-so-distant memory of a character on TV that I fawned over weekly on this very site. It recalls multiple kisses, crazy acts, spaced out eyes, wedding rage, and a Black Widow submission that caused more ass-smacks than I could handle.
But this title isn’t about the character AJ Lee, it’s about AJ Mendez Brooks, and that is where all of the strengths of this book reside.
In Crazy Is My Superpower, Brooks is unabashedly open with her upbringing, displaying the most embarrassing and shameful moments of her childhood without remorse. From being asked to strip nude in front of her mother as punishment, to the harsh reality of having to stab an intruder before the age of 15, Brooks dives deep into her past and opens the door for all of us to see. And yet, she does this with an air of authenticity and never asks for pity. In the book, she admits to a mental disorder, depicts her parents as incredibly flawed yet loving, displays a family in constant struggled, and a girl surviving in a dirty world. Often times, a biography that holds a harsh upbringing tugs at the heartstrings for some semblance of sympathy, but Brooks never once comes off that way. Instead, her story is more for relatability and understanding that it did not break her than it ever is about gaining brownie points from fans. Brooks doesn’t display a need for anyone’s sympathy, but instead for understanding – not for herself, but for the reader.
Another high point of the book itself is her admission of suffering from bi-polar disorder. Again, she takes a high road by not only admitting she suffers from this, but just how integral it is into the fabric of her upbringing and life. She shines a light on a disorder that is continuously misunderstood and often times confused with depression. In learning more about AJ’s upbringing and her tumultuous life as a child, well into her adulthood, the reader is allowed to understand just how much a disorder such as this can affect a person and their family, and how it never truly goes away.
Brooks is uncanny in her ability to have the reader relate to her, and nearly glosses over her achievements as something obtainable for anyone who truly wants it – because they are. A high point in the book is, ironically enough, the lowest point in her life, where she nearly dies due to an accidental overdose. It is here where she finds a clean slate to start her life upon, and it’s just completely appreciated to see a person go through so much and still stand tall and start over.
As stated in the beginning of this review, the book isn’t just for wrestling fans, and I think that speaks volumes as to what her intentions were behind writing this book. Often times, an autobiography is silently lauded as the ultimate ego stroke, and even if there is some truth saddled within that statement, I challenge a reader to find an iota of personal fellatio within these pages. Brooks is nude in front of us in the most unprudish of ways, and she isn’t doing it for solely for wrestling fans. In fact, there is a large sense that this is for any little girl that had the same wish she had as a child, for any person (man or woman) suffering from bi-polar disorder whether it be personal or within their family, and for any person that at any time simply felt invisible.
Another part of the book that I’m sure most will dive right into, hoping for the nitty-gritty would be her relationship with CM Punk, and although this may leave some disappointed, I’m so glad it was kept minimally. Not-so-secret Internet crush aside, this book wasn’t about her and Punk, and as she so awesomely put it, “And the rest of our story is just for us.”
I had just finished Bryan Cranston’s book before this, and while his book was a flurry of personal memories that was a sheer joy from an entertainment perspective, Brooks displayed herself for the world to see as a whole in an effort to inspire and help. I am always hesitant to grab a book written by someone famous. This is a glimpse into their personal life that could very well damage the image that any one of us have created (in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens to some after reading this), but the book was beautifully written. Brooks has an eloquent voice mixed with a vernacular that one would find chatting with a friend at a bar. Her syntax is easily digestible yet strong. This book, whether by her own hand or through the help of editing, is wonderfully written, and truly the only time it staggers is near the end where it seemed a bit rushed (which, admittedly, is an issue with many autobiographies).
I understand that a bulk of this review sounds like it’s written by anyone BUT Tony Acero – AJ Enthusiast, and I apologize for not being as candidly frivolous with my words as I usually am, but having JUST put this book down, I found myself compelled to stress more what this book entailed than my love and undying adoration for the fictional character that is AJ Lee. I do not want this review to deter anyone from reading it simply because it wasn’t “written for us,” but instead want you to understand that it’s more than just a backstage glimpse, more than just a peek behind The Gorilla Position, and more than just AJ Lee acting crazy. This is Brooks fully exposed on her own terms for the sake of a disease that nearly destroyed her family and herself, and for that alone, it’s worth a read. You won’t find the scuttlebutt, but instead you will find a human being who suffers, still, something that you may be experiencing yourself, yet understands what it is and isn’t afraid to face the disorder – or anything, for that matter, head on and without remorse.
Thank you, AJ.
And thank you for reading.