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Cara Brookins - Rise

If you were inspired by Wild and Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll love this extraordinary true story of a woman taking the greatest risk of her life in order to heal from the unthinkable.

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 and 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.



                                                                    

 What does it look like to build a house with your kids?


Our Crew

 

When we first had the idea to build a house with our own hands, we had no idea how far we were in over our heads. (note the optimistic grins) We’d left a terrible domestic violence situation and we thought this project would rebuild our family. It did—but first it knocked us to our knees.

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Our Crew

 

When we first had the idea to build a house with our own hands, we had no idea how far we were in over our heads. (note the optimistic grins) We’d left a terrible domestic violence situation and we thought this project would rebuild our family. It did—but first it knocked us to our knees.

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Location. Location.

 

We finally found the perfect acre for our dream home, and it looked like a slice of heaven. We had no idea that things like January concrete mixing in a wheelbarrow and installing fiberglass insulation in July would make it feel more like the opposite of heaven for many months.

Location. Location.

 

We finally found the perfect acre for our dream home, and it looked like a slice of heaven. We had no idea that things like January concrete mixing in a wheelbarrow and installing fiberglass insulation in July would make it feel more like the opposite of heaven for many months.

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One Brick at a Time

 

Since the inexperienced plumber (that was me) was too busy, too ignorant, and too much of a coward to run the water line under the road, we had to haul water from the neighbor’s frozen pond to mix the mortar in a wheelbarrow for the foundation. Here’s Jada troweling a layer of mortar.

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One Brick at a Time

 

Since the inexperienced plumber (that was me) was too busy, too ignorant, and too much of a coward to run the water line under the road, we had to haul water from the neighbor’s frozen pond to mix the mortar in a wheelbarrow for the foundation. Here’s Jada troweling a layer of mortar.

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Building Courage

 

Getting to an out-of-mud state was a huge achievement. Framing most of the upstairs on a sunny Sunday is one of my happiest building memories. Our confidence was muscling up by this time, but still overshadowed with doubt that we could possibly meet our deadline.

Building Courage

 

Getting to an out-of-mud state was a huge achievement. Framing most of the upstairs on a sunny Sunday is one of my happiest building memories. Our confidence was muscling up by this time, but still overshadowed with doubt that we could possibly meet our deadline.

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All Hands on Deck

 

This build was a pretty extreme DIY project. At every step we evaluated energy efficiency and cost. We even handmade interior features like the bathroom and kitchen countertops with concrete. Here’s Roman sharing skills he learned in his mud-pie factory.

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All Hands on Deck

 

This build was a pretty extreme DIY project. At every step we evaluated energy efficiency and cost. We even handmade interior features like the bathroom and kitchen countertops with concrete. Here’s Roman sharing skills he learned in his mud-pie factory.

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Don’t Miss a Spot

 

Learning on the job defined every single step of this build. We all dove in head first—and like so many things, Hope took this to the next level when staining cabinets. Full disclosure: we were so far behind schedule at this point that I was practically cracking a whip.

Don’t Miss a Spot

 

Learning on the job defined every single step of this build. We all dove in head first—and like so many things, Hope took this to the next level when staining cabinets. Full disclosure: we were so far behind schedule at this point that I was practically cracking a whip.

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Muscle Up

 

Building our own house wasn’t something we were proud of at the time. We kept it largely secret even from my coworkers and the kids’ friends. The shame surrounding domestic violence takes a lot of work to sweat away. Little by little, we found our strength and our family bonds.

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Muscle Up

 

Building our own house wasn’t something we were proud of at the time. We kept it largely secret even from my coworkers and the kids’ friends. The shame surrounding domestic violence takes a lot of work to sweat away. Little by little, we found our strength and our family bonds.

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Rising Up

 

Working in the mud was a frustrating mess and working in the sky came with challenges, too. (especially if you’re afraid of heights—me) But by the time the house towered so much bigger than us, we were pretty darn proud of ourselves. Wooden walls went up, and mental barriers fell down.

Rising Up

 

Working in the mud was a frustrating mess and working in the sky came with challenges, too. (especially if you’re afraid of heights—me) But by the time the house towered so much bigger than us, we were pretty darn proud of ourselves. Wooden walls went up, and mental barriers fell down.

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Inkwell Manor

 

I dreamed of writing in our finished house so we named it Inkwell Manor. But life never serves up dreams without an equal pile of challenges and they were waiting at our finish line. Building our house gave us the strength and determination to tackle every challenge.

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Inkwell Manor

 

I dreamed of writing in our finished house so we named it Inkwell Manor. But life never serves up dreams without an equal pile of challenges and they were waiting at our finish line. Building our house gave us the strength and determination to tackle every challenge.

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Today

 

That small, broken family who started building their own house are long gone. Now we’re confident, fearless and taking on the world—seriously. In addition to sharing our story with the world, we’re traveling, speaking, and helping other people triumph over the past and build a bigger future.

Today

 

That small, broken family who started building their own house are long gone. Now we’re confident, fearless and taking on the world—seriously. In addition to sharing our story with the world, we’re traveling, speaking, and helping other people triumph over the past and build a bigger future.

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 “Uplifting…an inspiring memoir of absolute determination.” —Kirkus Reviews

Cara Brookins

Cara Brookins -Rise

It’s time for you to do your something big – and doing something big starts with the right motivation.

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