Booktalking "A Girl and Five Brave Horses" by Sonora Carver

Southwest Library

Booktalking "A Girl and Five Brave Horses" by Sonora Carver

Sonora Carver was a misfit during her school-age years. Often truant as a girl due to fraternizing with horses, Sonora was about to be expelled when her mother asked her to stay home anyway to take care of her younger siblings. Then, one day her mother presented her with a wild idea. She showed her an ad for a diving girl with Dr. Carver's diving horses. Sonora was less than thrilled about the proposition until she saw a performance. She was then captivated by the job opportunity, and she could think of little else. It became her mission to dive with horses. It turned out to be a great fit for her since she loved adventure, horses, swimming and travel.
The Carvers...
Dr. Carver was a force to be reckoned with.. hard on her, the other divers, Al and himself. His wishes and demands could be challenging to live with. He was very particular about Sonora's personal appearance, comportment, and performance. Even though sometimes resentful, she usually complied with his requests. His son, Al Carver, was also a competent businessperson. He trained the horses, the diving girls, signed the contracts and paid the bills, sought out new business opportunities, and catered to the crowds. Al soon fell in love with Sonora, and it was only after spending more time getting to know each other that Sonora also began to feel a spark of anticipation and excitement about him. 
The horses...
Lightning was always looking out for her riders. Then, they dived her into the ocean, and she got caught up in the tide. She became confused and started swimming towards the sea. A boat was sent after her to rescue her, but she was frightened and started swimming faster. She soon tired and then simply put her nose in the sea and died. The people pulled her body out of the water, but they could not revive her. 
Judas was a maverick who dumped riders for the fun of it and then leave them without a care in the world. He eventually developed a corkscrew dive that was most dangerous for riders, which caused the Carvers to retire him. Dr. Carver was attached to him, and they kept him as quite an expensive pet for a while.
Red Lips loved to nose dive, which was the most dangerous type of dive for riders. This was the horse that Sonora was riding while she hit the water with her eyes open and was completely blinded soon afterwards. But he was her favorite. 
Sonora loved the horses and the Carvers, and they loved her fiercely back. 
A Girl and Five Brave Horses by Sonora Carver, 1961
I was captivated by the Hollywood depiction of this story, and like with most movie-book pairs, the book was decidedly better than the movie. I quite enjoyed the movie, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, but the book is based more on reality, and the nitty gritty depiction of Sonora's relationships with the Carvers and the horses is more fully explicated. (Another great book not to be missed is Black Klansman.) The practice of diving horses was initiated by Dr. William Carver in 1881 until it was discontinued in 1978 due to finances. It was a cruel practice, and one of Dr. Carver's horses died after diving into the ocean. In fact, "Red Lips," the horse on the cover of the book, looks terrified to me. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading about the horses and the industry, and it was extremely informative. 

blog by Miranda J. McDermott