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The title Rise (St. Martin’s, $25.99, 320 pages) may suggest a thriller, and Cara Brookins’ superb, family-dominated, nonfiction tale is every bit of one, though for totally unexpected reasons.

The book tells the story of Brookins reassembling her life and family by literally building a house with her children. Losing herself in a seemingly impossible task becomes at once heart-wrenching and heartfelt, as she faces a seemingly incessant parade of obstacles that bring her closer and closer to achieving her dream. This in spite of relying on experience gleaned from little more than the likes of Tinker Toys and Erector Sets.

Thrillers derive their popularity from heroes who overcome impossible odds en route to ultimate triumph.  The same holds true in Rise, a sumptuously simple tale belying an emotional depth that defines its very core and makes us root for Brookins and her kids as much as any fictional heroes.

~Jon Land (TopShelf Reviews)