Rise: Book summary and reviews of Rise by Cara Brookins


How a House Built a Family

by Cara Brookins

Rise by Cara Brookins X
Rise by Cara Brookins
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Jan 2017
    320 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

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.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!


Media Reviews

"A tough, honest memoir. Brookins deftly narrates the extreme learning curve her family experienced while putting a family back together again." - Publishers Weekly

"Not without its flaws but an inspiring memoir of absolute determination." - Kirkus

"Cara Brookins did something remarkable with her life: She turned trauma into power and fear into courage. She refused to be a victim anymore. In powerful ways, her extraordinary memoir, Rise, tells the story of her resurrection from victim of domestic abuse to bad-ass mom with a hammer and carpenter's square. You will be enlightened. You will be inspired. You will cheer her on as she builds a new home and a new life for herself and her four children - one brick at a time." - John Grogan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Marley & Me

"If Rise were a novel, the plot - woman escapes domestic violence to build her own house, assisted only by her children and YouTube videos - would seem impossibly far-fetched. But Cara Brookins actually lived this story, and reading her account of it slowly filled me to the brim with admiration, hope, and belief that a determined human can do practically anything. Rise is a compelling story, lovingly told, that will uplift and inspire readers whatever their circumstances." - Martha Beck, New York Times bestselling author of Finding Your Own North Star

"Sometimes the universe puts us in a bad place and dares us to fight our way out. Cara Brookins did just this. We should all be as strong as her. This book will provide the powerful imagery and guidance for a generation of people who need to change their lives." - Tom Hart, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Rosalie Lightning

"This inspiring real-life story that's all the more amazing because it's true. Readers will be both spellbound and lifted by it." - David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author

"Telling a story like Rise takes guts. It also takes talent, which Cara has in spades. To paraphrase Sondheim, she made a house, where there never was a house. And then she wrote this memorable book about it. Believe me, it's pretty rare for those skill sets to overlap." - Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of After I'm Gone

"It has been a very long time since I have read a book as singular and as profoundly moving as Rise. Rise, by turns daunting and uplifting, gives new meaning to the concepts of heroism and sacrifice, and it is a remarkable construct in itself." - Les Standiford, author of Water to the Angels

The information about Rise shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Amber B. (East Sparta, OH)

Rising to the occasion
This powerful, inspiring book will break down stereotypes of women who have been victims of domestic violence and give readers an up close and personal glimpse of how mental illness can threaten and destroy families.
I was in awe of Cara Brookins - her intelligence, resourcefulness, and capabilities. I think my favorite part was reading about how Brookins and her children healed and gained confidence through completing a seemingly impossible task. I found myself constantly looking at the photo on the back of the book of these five survivors. As soon as I was finished, I looked up all the photos of their house building progress on Brookins' website. Kudos to Brookins and her incredible kids!

Robin N. (La Quinta, CA)

A Message of Hope and Courage
I really, really enjoyed this book. It is the story of Cara who is a single mother of 4. They have all lived with the fear of domestic violence and Cara and the children decide to almost singlehandedly build a 2 story brick house. The strength and determination of each family member and the growth that they experience both individually and as a family is remarkable. This book makes you believe that you can do anything and the sheer determination to make the most of your situation is amazing. Building a house is not boring; it is a lot of work and there were many ups and downs both with the house and with her divorced husband. But she never gave up! A toast to Inkwell Manor! Well done!

Katherine D. (Rochester, NY)

Rise by Cara Brookins
This is the first-hand account of Cara Brookins, who was forced by circumstance to rebuild a family which is being ripped apart by spousal abuse and fear, and to build a safe house for this family "from the ground up", literally.

The narrator is extracting herself and her children from an abusive, mentally ill husband and father. Her approach to seemingly insurmountable problems brings to mind the innate sense and indomitable spirit shown by our early pioneer women as they began to settle in unknown lands. With no prior training in construction, and four small children, she heads to You Tube for instructions on how to dig a hole, pour a reinforced footing, and lay a block foundation. All further framing siding and roofing lessons are learned the same way, as Cara stays one 2 x 6 ahead of construction until completion.

Cara Brookins takes us step by painful step through the process of getting away from the life-threatening abusive husband, and step by step through the process of building a house where she and her children will all be safe. Widely regarded with skepticism by any who heard of this proposed adventure, with a crew initially composed only of her children, (one of whom is a toddler) and with very little assistance from others, Cara did indeed build a very sturdy brick house. At the same time she held down a job as a computer programmer to keep some income flowing in.

This book should be required reading for any novice who is thinking of building a house, whether it is a DIY project or a traditional contractor build. The life lessons she and her children learn during this process might well be studied by anyone interested starting a strong and balanced family: independence and interdependence, curiosity, openness, honesty, and "can do" attitude, accompanied by a large helping of humor.

Please join them on this excellent adventure. You will be cheering for them all during the literal Ups and Downs of the construction and family building process! They all deserve a medal of Valor and Honor.

Lucy B. (Urbana, OH)

Even though I knew what the book was about before I read it, personally as I began reading, I felt that the book could be labeled as a suspense. I wondered how Cara was going to survive her ordeal with her husband.

I think it took a lot of courage for Cara and her children to take on the project of building a house when they didn't have any experience as builders. The pictures of Inkwell Manor are very impressive. I liked the fact that we were given progress in the house as they went along and also the update on their personal setbacks and achievements.

A great book to read.

Shannon R. (Pflugerville, TX)

Profile in Courage
Overcoming. This is a theme of many memoirs. The author tells her and her family's story of overcoming domestic violence and rebuilding their lives. There are MANY other books that tell the same story. But this one is different. I love how the author is very real about the danger of their situation--I felt as if I was there in the room with her. However, she doesn't dwell on it. A majority of the book is on rebuilding their lives, brick by brick. Showing that she has actually overcome the abuse of her past and risen like a phoenix from the ashes. This is a very uplifting read. I highly recommend it!

Penny P. (Santa Barbara, CA)

I really enjoyed this book. A family who was at an all time low, chose to find a way to escape their past. I loved the fact that the family pulled together to escape a violent and abusive past. The mother, Cara, knew that her children had been damaged by the experience and knew what the safety of a home would mean. The fact that the family built their home brick by brick was even more impressive. She was a fine example for her four children.

...34 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Cara Brookins

Cara Brookins is a computer analyst and social media marketing expert based in Little Rock. She is the author of Rise: How a House Built a Family and seven middle grade and young adult novels.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more biography/memoir...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Voted 2018 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Tara Westover had the kind of ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Voted 2018 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Towards the end of Madeline Miller...
  • Book Jacket: Children of Blood and Bone
    Children of Blood and Bone
    by Tomi Adeyemi
    Voted 2018 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What would you do if, in a ...
  • Book Jacket: Where the Crawdads Sing
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    by Delia Owens
    Voted 2018 Best Debut Novel Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Where the Crawdads Sing was a ...

See all Award Winners & Top 20

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Kinship of Secrets
    by Eugenia Kim

    Two sisters grow up bound by family but separated by war; inspired by a true story.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 ½ Deaths of
Evelyn Hardcastle

"Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read." - A. J. Finn


Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.