~ After escaping an abusive marriage, Cara Brookins had four children to provide for and no one to turn to but herself. In desperate need of a home but without the means to buy one, she did something incredible.

Equipped only with YouTube instructional videos, a small bank loan, a mile-wide stubborn streak, Cara built her own house from the foundation up with a work crew made up of her four children.

It would be the hardest thing she had ever done. With no experience nailing together anything bigger than a bookshelf, she and her kids poured concrete, framed the walls and laid bricks for their two story, five bedroom house. She had convinced herself that if they could build a house, they could rebuild their broken family.

This must-read memoir traces one family’s rise from battered victims to stronger, better versions of themselves, all through one extraordinary do-it-yourself project.

I received an eARC courtesy of the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! 

This book is about a domestic violence survivor and her family, and includes some graphic descriptions of domestic violence, stalking and abuse. It also has a schizoaffective character that is incredibly dangerous to the family.  Please be careful with your mental health, friends.

~ Nothing makes a person feel smaller, weaker, or more insubstantial than taking a thousand times more than you can handle.

Rise: How a House Built A Family told an amazing story, with a narrative style that read like it could be fiction, but it’s a memoir.

It’s told in split sections. The “Fall” chapters that detailed Cara’s relationship with her ex-husband Adam, who was an untreated schizophrenic and became incredibly violent to her and their children. The “Rise” chapters walked us through Cara breaking free of her currently abusive husband, Matt, and the construction process that helped build the Brookins family back up, and teach them to trust each other again.

This book broke my heart, and helped me put it back together. Cara is an amazing narrator, and their story is an important one. I was amazed that they were able to get everything done in their time frame. It really was an awesome effort to get done, and I’m proud of these people I’ve never met.

However, I wish that both in reality and in this book that Adam was treated for his psychological disorders, because he so desperately needed it. I wish that Adam’s family had been more interested in getting him help so he could be himself without being dangerous. My heart broke for Adam as much as it did for any of the others in this story.

Overall, I’m gonna go with a four star rating for this book. It’s probably closer to a 3.5. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, you can pick up a copy on Amazon, Indiebound or your other favorite bookseller!

three stars

Cara Brookins is a computer analyst and social media marketing expert based in Little Rock. You can read more about her, as well as see shots of her home and family at http://www.carabrookins.com/. Her memoir, Rise: How a House Built a Family details the house she built with her children after they had left a domestic violence situation. She is also the author of seven middle grade and young adult novels and one adult novel.

Disclaimer: All links to Indiebound and Amazon are affiliate links, which means that if you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money off of it.

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