Wednesday, February 8, 2017

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

Cara Brookins has bad taste in men. Of course she tries hard and thinks each time that she's found the right one, but each one was worse than the last. Her first husband actually wasn't bad at all, just kind of disappeared into the army and disappeared even more after their divorce, with very little interaction despite them having three kids. Husband #2 turned out to be schizoaffected. That's very, very bad. That means schizophrenia and bipolar. He was brilliant, an inventor with lots of patents, but in the end, he was terrifying, threatening to kill Cara and hurting her dog. Husband #3 actually chocked Cara on multiple occasions, nearly killing her. Although after their divorce he pretty much went away, unlike #2 who continued to stalk and harass her randomly.

Understandably, Cara and her four kids didn't feel safe in their home near Little Rock, Arkansas. She also couldn't afford it on her own. She knew they'd have to sell it and move. And one day she drove by a house that had been destroyed in a tornado, but the front of the house was still up and she fell in love with it. But buying a tornado-destroyed house would be crazy. Instead she bought a plot of land, took out a construction loan, and decided she and her four kids (well, three as the youngest was only two and mostly got in the way) would build the same house, by themselves. Not crazy at all.

Turns out, it really wasn't. It was a way for them to regain control and get out some anger and frustration (especially her closed-off teenage son) and do something empowering for themselves. They don't have much idea what they're doing, but with the help of a lot of YouTube videos, some help from her Dad, and a random guy from the hardware store who helped out from time to time, they did it. They built an entire house. Which is seriously impressive. The last few weeks Cara collapses from exhaustion, getting by on only two hours of sleep a night (she does after all have to also keep working her day jobs to bring in money). But her kids develop more self-sufficiency and strength, and even when they themselves go through some horrible things outside of the family, it seems the strength they have developed from this project makes them more resilient. Now, don't get me wrong, all four of these kids are going to need some serious therapy to deal with some of the awful things they saw and heard and experienced as children thanks to husbands #2 and 3, but they have built the emotional resources to do the hard work.

I checked this book out of the library.

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