Cara Brookins has given a whole new meaning to DIY home projects.
In 2008, when the mother of four was facing her second terrifyingly abusive marriage, she resolved to provide a safe environment for her kids—by building a home from scratch. Equipped with a small bank loan to help buy construction supplies, her elder three children as backup collaborators and a myriad of YouTube how-to videos at her disposal, Brookins set out on her lofty goal. Did we mention she had no prior construction experience?
“Once I had bought all these supplies and they were all piled up, there was no way out,” she said. “There wasn’t enough money to pay anyone to put them together. There was no plan B.”
The former analyst and YA author bravely got to work. Using the acre of land in Arkansas that she bought at a bargain price, Brookins enlisted her eldest son, Drew, to help draw the blueprints, and then later, to pour the concrete, move lumber, and nail in the cabinetry. Meanwhile her daughters Hope and Jada would aid in the creative processes and keep a watchful eye on curious toddler Roman, the youngest sibling. “The entire process brought our family closer together and we learned that nothing is impossible. We found new hope,” explained Brookins.
After an astoundingly quick nine-month period, the hardworking family were ready to move into their 3500 square foot home. Equipped with five bedrooms, a library, and a three-car garage, the family have named the sprawling house “Inkwell Manor.”
Now, years later, Cara Brookins is about to release an inspiring memoir about her experiences, titled ‘Rise: How a House Built a Family’. In it she offers sage advice for women and victims of abuse. “Never think of your situation as a solo journey,” says Brookins. “Forget everything you’ve been told about taking baby steps, because if you want to achieve great things, start with a step so big, so impossible, that it forever changes who you are.”
For Brookins, that big step certainly paid off.