When you get into a book for the wrestling, and come out learning a lot more about yourself and society as a whole.
Let me be completely crystal clear here: I only bought this book because I know of April Mendez (now April Brooks) as AJ Lee the professional wrestler. She is married to my favorite pro wrestler, CM Punk. That being said, this book has very little to do with professional wrestling. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
This is a tale of a girl who overcame a lot and achieved her dreams. April Mendez lived through adversity nearly every step of the way. Young parents who didn’t really know what they were doing. A bipolar mother who took mental disorders as a sign of weakness, and not a real diagnosis a doctor could make. A father who lacked responsible parenting traits, and worried more about beer in the fridge than paying the rent. School is full of adversity for anyone, let alone someone who later finds out she too is bipolar. Two siblings who grew up in the same surroundings as April, without proper parenting. Through all of that, April became not only a professional wrestler, but a champion wrestler.
What I love about this book is the way it’s written and delivered. It’s not by your typical author. April writes it as if she is talking to you in person, drinking coffee outside by a tree (or anywhere really, but there’s definitely coffee). She’s sarcastic, vulgar, and hilarious through every story. It’s how I imagine “AJ Lee” the character when out of the ring. She doesn’t hold back when she describes becoming a woman and the shock she endures through that experience. I felt the disappointment when April is forced to drop out of college because it’s simply too taxing on her ability to take care of her parents (who simply do not have the ability to be responsible without kids to take care of). And when she describes the joy and excitement of finally getting recognized for her talents, it’s an elation I felt bubbling inside me as well.
Two things really resonated with me in April’s story. First, April says she doesn’t drink or do drugs because she always wants to be in control. Yes Brunner, we know, you’re straightedge. Move on. The second was April’s story about finding out she was bipolar and the impact it has. I’ve dated someone with bipolar disorder. Everything April described about the disorder is spot on. I cried reading parts of this book. It’s very real what bipolar people go through. It’s very real what loved ones around people with bipolar disorder go through. Personally, I would argue there’s no real way to manage it for either party. It’s just there. And sometimes it downright sucks. The fact that April tapped into that for the “AJ Lee” character terrifies me. I’ve experienced the very real consequences when the disorder takes over. Kudos to her for finding a level of control where she can live a happy life.
This book is real. It’s raw. And it’s emotional. I appreciated every page. You may find yourself breezing through this and looking for your next book in a matter of hours, or days. You may take your time like I did and read 10% or so every day (thanks Kindle for the % stuff). Either way I think it’s worth the paper, or pixels, it’s put on. Because you’re right AJ, I can’t lace up your Chuck Taylors.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10
+Great conversational writing
+Amazing perspective on several tough subjects
+ Laugh out loud funny in some spots
– Not enough wrestling for some people
– Selfishly I want more!
Brunner 1.0 is a writer, audio and video editor, and social media coordinator for the Geekiverse. When he’s not watching wrestling, he’s watching wrestling.
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