Escaping the fallout of failed marriages and domestic abuse, on a weekend getaway Cara Brookins happened upon a stately home ravaged by Mother Nature. Her walk through the home’s crumbling remains became the impetus for a plan to build a new house for herself and her four children. Beyond financial necessity and the empowering prospects of tackling such a grandiose do-it-yourself project, Brookins hoped the home would help heal her fractured family.
Rise: How a House Built a Family takes readers along on a transformative journey. Brookins marks off the acre of land she has purchased with a bag of self-rising flour, then secures a bank loan. With the help of YouTube videos and a learn-as-you-go attitude, Brookins and her kids lay bricks, frame walls, integrate plumbing and build their dream. Brookins captures the process in rise and fall chapters: The rises highlight house construction, while the falls offer heart-rending memories of trauma inflicted by a schizophrenic ex-husband.
While building a five-bedroom house may not be for everyone, all readers can find inspiration in Brookins’ endeavor. In an age when few adolescents would forgo extracurricular activities, endure exhausting manual labor and accept a tool belt for Christmas, her young crew pitches in for the greater good of the family.
Perhaps 15-year-old Drew says it best when he admonishes his sister, “You built your own damn house, you can do anything.”