A Girl and Five Brave ...
Sonora Carver
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A Girl and Five Brave Horses

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  214 ratings  ·  57 reviews
This autobiography is the true story of Sonora Webster Carver who dove with horses from 40' towers in the 1920's. Dr. W.F. Carver, who ran the show, had previously started "The Wild West" shows with his friends, Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok. (The movie 'Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken' is loosely based on her life.)
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published 1961 by Doubleday & Company, Inc
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I wouldn't say this is the best written book I've come across, but I enjoyed the story and always enjoy watching the movie Wild Hearts Can't be Broken, which was based on this story, so I couldn't help but be a bit generous in giving it four stars. Between the book and the movie I felt satisfied with the story, but neither feels quite sufficient on their own. I felt almost like I was reading a journal or sitting in the same room as the author and being told snippets of events in her life. I like...more
I like to read biographies about other people’s lives and I love horses (as well as all animals) so I enjoyed this book very much. I found Sonora Carver’s passion for life, passion for horses and her strength and determination to overcome her handicap of being blinded as a young woman most admirable. Her passion for horses and diving and living life were so strong that she continued to horse dive even after losing her sight. A good and easy read and I give this book a "thumbs-up".
As is often the case, it was a movie that brought this story to my attention: Wild Hearts Can't be Broken, starring Gabrielle Anwar. It is based (albeit loosely) on this autobiography, and has always been a favorite film since childhood. The true story was very different in many ways, and is a very enjoyable read. Sonora Carver had an amazing life, and she told it very well.
I am probably the only person of the male persuasion to show interest in a title like "A Girl and Five Brave Horses." This is not a Marguerite Henry book. Like many others I read this because of the movie "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken." Sonora Webster Carver was reported to have said the movie is nothing like the book, which is par for a movie. This book is an autobiography written by Sonora Carver and a writer. It is a great set of reminiscences of the Amusement Park business before and during t...more
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I've always loved the movie, "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken", and finally got around to reading the book. The book is richer, factual and eye-opening on the amazing life that Sonora Carver led. I'm glad I watched the movie first though because you'll be sorely disappointed if you do it the other way around! Definitely worth the read though!
Erin McCabe
I loved the movie /Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken/ as a girl, but didn't learn until just recently that Sonora Carver had written an autobiography. I thoroughly enjoyed this little book, reading it in less than 24 hours. Even more I enjoyed learning about the details of how the diving horse act worked, the connection Sonora had to the horses, and the incredible spirit and determination Sonora had, both before and after she went blind. As others have mentioned, it's not fabulously written, though I...more
Jan 04, 2011 Meg rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
Sonora's real life story is even more amazing than the movie (and they definitely took more than a few liberties with the hollywood version). A good read if you're a fan of Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, but it does get intense!
Nov 16, 2009 Birgitte rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, because it's even better!
This was a great book. Sonora had to deal with some life altering challenges, and it was great to see how she overcame them and lived her dreams.
Cyndy Otty
Like many little girls, I was absolutely obsessed with horses. To an extent, I guess I still am. But as a child my life basically revolved around anything related to horses. In this, Carver and I are much alike. If you're unfamiliar with the name, Carver was an entertainer who was made famous by being one of the first female horse divers. Moreover, she was blind for more than half of the two decades she performed. Her memoir inspired the Disney film Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. I was quite enamo...more
Madeline Ellis
This is the amazing, brave, and hopeful story of Sonora Carver. I had seen the film based off of this book, so I was excited to read her real words. We meet Sonora at a young age, and this biography continues on chronologically as she lives her life and builds her reputation as a horse diver. With both raw talent and incredible luck, Sonora is hired to travel to various carnivals and perform, diving while riding a horse from a 70 foot platform. She is wildly successful and loved by her fans, but...more
Amy Raby
This is an older book that has been brought back in digital format. I can tell it was just scanned and thrown together without proofreading, because it is full of scanning errors. Fair warning. But I found it worth reading.

It's the memoir of a woman who rode diving horses in an act that traveled around the country and performed at fairgrounds between 1880 and 1940. The horses would leap off a platform 40' high, carrying a rider, and plummet into a tank of water. Then they would swim to a ramp th...more
I recently re-watched the movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, which was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the movie has not lost all of its charm over the years, and even more surprised when my sister discovered that the real life person the main character is based on had written an autobiography.

I had a number of issues with this book. First, the book itself was just ugly. It seemed to be a hastily thrown together reprint of the first edition, and it wa...more
This book is what the movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken was based on. I have been looking for this book ever since I was a little girl and I was so happy when they reprinted it last year. I read this book in a few days and was not surprised but a tad disappointed that it was really nothing like the movie because I loved the movie. The true story was more real and sounded more like what a person's life is about. Sonora Carver was an incredibly inspiring woman with an unbreakable spirit and an upl...more
I will admit I have a soft spot for the movie “Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken” so I was very excited when my friend was able to get a copy of the out of print book that the movie was based on. Of course the story had been completely Disneyfied in the movie so the “real story” isn’t nearly as romantic but it was still pretty interesting. I think this book would make a great audio book. As I read I felt like I was listening to an old cassette recording of the author reminiscing about her glory days....more
I had set out to read this book several years ago, but it was difficult to find. I was so happy that it's readily available through Amazon now. I think I read the whole thing in 2 days. It wasn't a literary masterpiece by any means, but I couldn't put it down. She goes into detail about all of the horses that she rode and they they trained, which sounds boring but somehow when she tells it, it isn't. She clearly loved the horses and her life. She sounds like one tough cookie! I found myself wish...more
This month at Lee Whedon Memorial Library we are celebrating Non-Fiction books. If you're a fan of the movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken you'll definitely want to read this book. The movie, released by Disney, is a loose interpretation. Based on the life of Sonora Carver, an American entertainer and one of the first female horse divers.
Carver answered an ad in 1923 for a diving girl. Soon becoming one of the lead diving girls for Doc Carter's traveling show. However, in 1931, Sonora was blinded...more
I'm probably slightly over-rating this book because I have always been fascinated with the Sonora Carver story ever since seeing the movie "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken" as a kid. She was an amazing woman who dove horses off of a 40 foot tower at fairs and at Atlantic City in the 1930s, was blinded in a diving accident, and then continued to dive even after she was blind. It was interesting to see which parts of the movie were accurate and which weren't. Unsurprisingly, she was even more interest...more
I've always enjoyed the movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, so I thought I'd take a look at the memoirs of Sonora Webster to see how similar the movie is to her actual life story. There isn't as much of the romance angle as in the movie, and of course some of the details were different, but it was pretty entertaining. Sonora's voice is light, humorous, and hopeful, and even though the book spends a lot of time with technical details (like the different types of jumps the horses could do and build...more

I remember Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken growing up as a kid. I was excited to find out they were reprinting A Girl and Five Brave Horses. I wasn’t going to spend $400 on a book! I wished to know more about her and Al but the details were very vague. She makes up for it when she discusses going blind and what treatment was done and how she was determined to go on no matter what. I think that is what makes her and the book so extraordinary. What I learned from the book is that if you really love so...more
Having fallen in love with the movie "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken" as a child, I was excited to come across the real story written by Sonora Carver herself. I expected there to be some changes from the movie, but I was unprepared for the many drastic differences. Sonora herself once said to her sister that hardly anything in the movie was true and she's right! So if you liked the movie, get this book and find out what really happened! An enjoyable read for horse-lovers and dreamers, for anyone f...more
I admit that the book is not well written, but its not terrible, either. Sonora lived an absolutely extraordinary life and had a wonderful, positive spirit. Her strength and perseverance to continue horse diving after being blinded in an accident was inspiring to say the least. The story of Dr. W.F. Carver is also interwoven in the book, and his story was so astonishing it almost seemed like fiction! This book was a fascinating read and a peek back into simpler times.

Full review at:

I am in love with this book, quite possibly because I loved the movie adaptation of Sonora Carver's story ("Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken"). The style is approachable and it seems like a grandmother is telling me stories, which I adore. Overall this was an excellent book with an engrossing story to tell, written kind of like a diary. I love her strength, and her complete refusal to believe that a disability could stop her from doing things she loved (despite what society tried to tell her). Sonora...more

You might be familiar with this story if you ever watched Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (still one of my favorite movies). Don't expect this book to be verbatim, though. It's the real autobiography as dictated by Sonora Carver--one of the first diving girls (and that's girls that rode horses off tall platforms into large pools of water). It is not the most well written book, but I would contribute this to the dictation factor.Otherwise, it's a lovely story. Inspiring, with plenty of horses...more
True story behind the movie "Wild Hearts Can't be Broken". The movie varied a lot from the real story but you can see why when you read this book, as with most true life stories, it's not quite as constantly dramatic as Hollywood likes to portray. She was an amazingly strong woman though and the book is certainly inspiring and worth the read. Quick easy read.
I loved watching this movie ("Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken") and I recently learned it was based on a book about her life. Sonora joined a traveling act and learned to dive horses off of a tower 40 feet up in the air. She dives for 8 years before becoming blind during a dive. Her extraordinary perseverance enabled her to continue diving blind for eleven more years! She is truly an inspiration. She proved that a handicap does not have to be disabling. If you have the courage and the drive, you can...more
This biography tells you about how she got started, how she trained, the horses and their different methods, her accidents, her falls, her sister coming along for the ride, her marriage and her love of diving through anything. A beautiful tale well written and engrossing, I urge you to read it. Yes, it's different from the movie, but the essence is the same, and Sonora's personality is something you shouldn't miss.
I recommend seeing the movie first.
Laura-Jane Barber
Like other reviewers, I became interested in this because of the movie, Wild Hearts Can't be Broken. I found the book on Amazon for around $75 but Barnes and Noble had it for only $12.99 and it was worth every penny. What a truly inspiring and amazing story. I wish she had shared more about the development of her relationship with Al and wish there was an update on the rest of her life. Nevertheless, I am a fan and recommend this memoir.
although the idea of having horses jump into tanks of water or worse yet, the ocean, is horrific to me...however, i found the author's life story enchanting. this book is one that you should not pass up, that being said it may not be easy to find. i was lucky that there is 1 copy in my entire library system and from what i understand this little book is requested by libraries all over the country. i hope you enjoy it as much as i did.
I watched Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken again and again as a kid. It's always been one of my favorite movies, so when I found out there was a book written by the author, I had to read it. I was surprised and a little disappointed at the changes the movie made, especially when the facts would have still made a good movie. I really enjoyed reading the book, though, and I ended up reading it last night in one sitting.
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Sonora Carver was an American entertainer, most notable as one of the first female horse divers. Carver answered an ad placed by "Doc" William Frank Carver in 1923 for a diving girl and soon earned a place in circus history.

Her job was to mount a running horse as it reached the top of a forty-foot (sometimes sixty-foot) tower and sail down along the animal's back as it plunged into a deep pool of...more
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“Blindness is not so much a tragedy as it is a damn nuisance.” 4 likes
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