Rise: How a House Built a Family by Cara Brookins: A Review



I am normally a sucker for a good memoir but Brookins' account of building a house after suffering from domestic violence didn't do it for me.  Cara Brookins is a mother of four who has suffered immensely in her life.  Her disabled brother was an easy target for bullies and she keeps finding herself in relationships with the wrong men.  Adam is incredibly smart and talented but he also suffers with schizoaffective disorder, an extremely difficult to treat mental illness.  Matt is physically and verbally abusive.  Cara decides that she must protect herself and her children by moving away from the men and finding a new place to live.  Short on money, Cara decides that she will build her own home using advice gleaned from YouTube videos and people she meets at the hardware store.

Brookins claims many times to be an optimist in her book and she must be in order to build her own home with four children in tow, one a toddler.  The story is very depressing, though.  I have read a lot of memoirs that center around the author's horrific past and they were able to maintain some semblance of lightness and hope but this book did not even though it had great potential to do so.  The author is very black and white in her representation of the different personalities in the book.  Her children are written as lovable, responsible and gifted whereas her ex-husbands are written as villains with no redeeming qualities.  I could have forgiven all of this if this were an interesting book to read but it was not engaging, at all.  I had to push myself to finish it and the story moved very slowly.  I really wanted to like this book and I believed it to have a lot of potential when I put it on my to be read list but I just didn't enjoy this book.

Watch an interview with Cara Brookins about her home build:


Reviews of books like this one:
Disaster Falls by Stephane Gerson
The Stranger in The Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

This book is currently available and can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Read more reviews on this book on Goodreads.

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