Excerpt from A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Pearl in the Storm

How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean

by Tori Murden McClure

A Pearl in the Storm
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2009, 304 pages
    Apr 2010, 304 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Gérard was a member of the European Parliament, and duty called him home just before my departure. Saying goodbye had been difficult. We didn’t exchange many words, but Gérard’s eyes were eloquent. I imagined he envied me a little, but there was something else, a sense of sorrow. The lessons of the ocean can be difficult.

I think Gérard understood that I was the kind of person who is inclined to go the hard way, and I think he recognized just how much it was going to hurt. As an athlete, I understood physical pain. Rowing twelve hours a day, day after day, for months would not be easy. What Gérard could not tell me was that crossing an ocean of solitude would tax more then muscle and joint.

Standing on the deck of the Handful and looking down on the American Pearl, I was proud of my little red, white, and blue rowboat. The American Pearl might have been a homemade barge, but she was my homemade barge. The tide chart indicated that the high tide would crest at 1:00 p.m. After we reached the bridge, the captain of the Handful explained that the tide at the bridge wouldn’t turn for another hour. Not wishing to row a 2,800-pound boat against an incoming tide, I turned to my friend Molly Bingham and asked her to wake me up after the tide shifted. Then I stretched out on the deck of the Handful and took a nap. A little after 2:00 p.m., Molly woke me.

I rose and began the task of hugging friends goodbye. Noreen Powers and Scott Shoup had been invaluable captains in the team of people who helped me to build the American Pearl. Bob Hurley, the other chief builder, hadn’t been able to make the trip from Kentucky to the coast. I asked Noreen and Scott to tell Bob goodbye for me. Noreen and another friend, Louise Graff, wished me well. Scott pulled the American Pearl alongside and held her steady. Then I climbed over the rail of the Handful and took my place aboard my little "barge." Scott tossed me the bowline and gave the American Pearl a gentle pat on her nose.

At precisely 2:18 p.m., I dropped my oar blades into the salt water and pulled three colossal strokes. The boat didn’t move. I wondered if some joker had anchored the American Pearl to the bridge while I’d been napping. The boat with the photographers snapping pictures and shooting video hovered less than twenty yards away. This is not good. I was already self-conscious. My sponsor had uniformed me in a blue polo shirt and lime green shorts. The ill-fitting shorts accentuated the extra fifteen pounds I’d deliberately packed on before the trip. I felt ungainly.

I’d better get this barge moving. The sliding seat allowed me to use my legs. These weren’t dainty limbs. I’d been training for this trip for almost three years, logging endless hours rowing my single scull up and down the Ohio River. I could pull twice my body weight on the seated row. I did sit-ups holding a 45-pound plate, and I could legpress more than 650 pounds. Even the football players in the weight room had stopped trying to hassle me. I slid my seat as far forward as possible, placed my oars in the water, and shoved with all the force my legs could muster. The boat began to inch toward France. After a few more strokes, the boat picked up speed, but I wasn’t exactly flying. At four-and-a-half miles per hour, I would cross the 3,600 miles of the Atlantic Ocean at a walking pace.

It took me a full twenty minutes to row the first mile to the sea buoy that marked the separation between Oregon Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. Boats in the flotilla that accompanied me began to turn around long before I reached open ocean. As I was about to pass the sea buoy, the last two vessels navigated around me in slow circles. The friends aboard the press boat said their goodbyes, and they headed back toward the bridge.

The Handful was the last vessel to leave. The crew aboard the Handful had supervised my sea trials, and they were reluctant to bid me farewell. Finally, even the Handful showed me her stern. Because rowers row facing the direction of where they have been, rather than the direction they are going, I could watch Handful getting smaller and smaller as it motored toward safe harbor. I rowed for another half an hour before I stopped to change out of the blue polo shirt covered with Sector Sport Watches logos and into a white shirt that would reflect the heat of the June sun.

Excerpted from A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure. Copyright © 2009 by Tori Murden McClure. Excerpted by permission of Collins, a division of HarperCollins, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.