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Sonora Carver
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A Girl and Five Brave Horses

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  389 Ratings  ·  85 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,081)
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Erin
Jan 10, 2015 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Sonora Carver was not impressed with Disney's Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken and after reading her memoir, I can't say I blame her. Though inspired by A Girl and Five Brave Horses, the film doesn't begin to do her story justice and conveniently alters and omits the most remarkable elements of her life and experience.

On film, Sonora is portrayed as a romantic misfit and while her life was undoubtedly unconventional, the book pa
...more
Julie
Feb 24, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
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
Lisa
3.5 stars. Sonora Webster Carver led a fascinating life. The book is good, but I like the movie better. Maybe because the movie has a touch of romance, while the book hardly mentions Sonora and Al's relationship. The movie definitely took liberties, but I love it.
Jan
Nov 15, 2010 Jan rated it really liked it
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".
Beatrice
May 05, 2011 Beatrice rated it it was amazing
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.
Heather Camacho
Nov 04, 2014 Heather Camacho rated it it was amazing
I grew up watching and loving the movie so when I learned this was a book I jumped at it, and finished it the same weekend I started it. It's very nicely and coherently written and it paints a great picture. It's a very sad book though and it's heartwarming that it's all real. I'm glad she decided to share her story.
Kelly
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
Nowell
Sep 28, 2010 Nowell rated it really liked it
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
Erin
Jan 02, 2016 Erin rated it really liked it
Utter madness, and utterly of its time. The writing style is a little stilted and lacking in detail and description which I was just crying out for - instead, a rather clinical (but still enjoyable) description of a practice so totally alien and bizarre I never fully got to grips with it. I couldn't understand the fascination of the crowd, the obsession of the performers, or even the willingness of the horses (which obviously could never be forced to continue the act. What makes them even? I don ...more
Emma
May 27, 2014 Emma rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth Berg
Jul 26, 2014 Elizabeth Berg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love love loved this book!

What an amazing story! What an amazing woman! This is the type of book young women should be reading... I'm a sucker for true stories of bravery and courage. Especially when seemingly insurmountable obstacles are over come. So refreshing to read about a woman who accomplished so much without compromising who she was...
Rachel
May 10, 2010 Rachel rated it really liked it
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 Lindsay McCabe
Jun 03, 2014 Erin Lindsay McCabe rated it really liked it
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
Meg
Jan 04, 2011 Meg rated it really liked it
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!
Kaitlyn
May 28, 2016 Kaitlyn rated it really liked it
A Girl and Five Brave Horses was a book I picked up after becoming fascinated by Sonora Webster and seeing the Disney movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. This story strays from the movie, as it shows just how tumultuous the lives are of those in the carnivals, specifically those who dived off towers for their job. I would definitely say her five horses are incredibly brave, but I would also say that Sonora is brave too. She showed strength at one of the darkest times of her life, and got back up, ...more
Birgitte
Nov 16, 2009 Birgitte rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 07, 2010 Cyndy Otty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
May 02, 2012 Madeline Ellis rated it really liked it
Shelves: eng-356
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
Sep 04, 2013 Amy Raby rated it really liked it
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
Katie
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
Aubrey
Jan 26, 2012 Aubrey rated it it was amazing
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
Teea
Feb 14, 2016 Teea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This memoir inspired Disney's "Wild Hearts Can't be Broken". Inspired would be accurate beacause it certainly didn't tell the real story. It should have though! Her stories and reflections were fascinating, hearfelt and exciting! I laughed out loud as I read about her quirky horses and held my breath as she described her diving experiences. This novel did have some typos but the substance was there and made everything else easy to overlook.
Andrea
Sep 05, 2015 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!! Several reviews said this was poorly written, but I thought it flowed nicely. Definitely different than the movie, but in a good way. I learned more about the art of diving and about the horses they used. Some events that happened in the movie were also out of chronological order (Sonora and Al marrying, calling Marie to come back to dive when Sonora was hurt, and how long it actually was before Sonora saw an eye doc and had surgeries). I will be purchasing thi ...more
Kirstin
Sep 24, 2014 Kirstin rated it liked it
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
Amber
May 11, 2013 Amber rated it really liked it
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
Robin Horton
Aug 23, 2015 Robin Horton rated it it was amazing
I was fascinated by Sonora's story when I watched Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken as a child. When I revisited the movie recently, I became even more intrigued. After learning that Sonora had written an autobiography, I ordered it immediately. I was completely in love with her story. I love stories from the early 20th century, especially the circus acts. This is a must read, for me!
Pam
Jun 09, 2015 Pam rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed reading this. I remembered watching the movie many years ago (which was much different than the book) and enjoyed reading the real story. The stories of the horse's personalities were quite funny. Sonora had a wonderful attitude towards life and has a very inspirational story.
Melissa
Aug 07, 2014 Melissa rated it it was amazing
I loved the movie Wild Hearts Can't be Broken in the 1990s. I searched and searched for the book and finally found it in a stack of very old worn books in the Columbus Metro Library. It is an excellent story of a very brave young woman who chose not to allow circumstances to dictate her dreams.
Rebecca
Nov 12, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess I wouldn't say this is my favorite book, or that it is spectacularly written. What I would say is that it is obvious that the author was passionate about her work. Sonora Carver didn't let anything hold her back from doing what she loved-including a physical handicap. You can tell through the writing how much she loved her work, and her horses. A great read, if you want to learn about one of the most famous horse divers of the 20's.
Katie
Jul 26, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it
I grew up watching this movie. it's been a favorite of mine for years. I'm surprised how far from the memoir the film deviated from. Totally different story line. Still I like both the book and the movie. Sonora is an incredible person to overcome such a disabling handicap. Her story moved and inspired me.
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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.” 6 likes
“true courage is what it takes to make yourself do something you’re afraid to do.” 2 likes
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