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Summary and book reviews of A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure

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

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

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About this Book

Book Summary

In June 1998, Tori McClure set out to row across the Atlantic Ocean by herself in a twenty-three-foot plywood boat with no motor or sail. It was a journey that affected her life in unexpected ways for years to come.

"In the end," writes Tori McClure, "I know I rowed across the Atlantic to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasn't aware that it was missing."

During June 1998, Tori McClure set out to row across the Atlantic Ocean by herself in a twenty-three-foot plywood boat with no motor or sail. Within days she lost all communication with shore, but nevertheless she decided to keep going. Not only did she lose the sound of a friendly voice, she lost updates on the location of the Gulf Stream and on the weather. Unfortunately for Tori, 1998 is still on record as the worst hurricane season in the North Atlantic. In deep solitude and perilous conditions, she was nonetheless determined to prove what one person with a mission can do. When she was finally brought to her knees by a series of violent storms that nearly killed her, she had to signal for help and go home in what felt like complete disgrace.

Back in Kentucky, however, Tori's life began to change in unexpected ways. She fell in love. At the age of thirty-five, she embarked on a serious relationship for the first time, making her feel even more vulnerable than sitting alone in a tiny boat in the middle of the Atlantic. She went to work for Muhammad Ali, who told her that she did not want to be known as the woman who "almost" rowed across the Atlantic Ocean. And she knew that he was right.

In this thrilling story of high adventure and romantic quest, Tori McClure discovers through her favorite way—the hard way—that the most important thing in life is not to prove you are superhuman but to fully to embrace your own humanity. With a wry sense of humor and a strong voice, she gives us a true memoir of an explorer who maps her world with rare emotional honesty.

Chapter 1
The Quest Begins
June 14, 1998
latitude north 35:52, longitude west 75:34
the Outer Banks of North Carolina

In the end, I know I rowed across the Atlantic to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasn’t aware that it was missing. In January 1998, I asked my uncle, "If I write a book about my explorations, should I write it as a comedy, a history, a tragedy, or a romance?" With a twinkle in his eye, he said, "A romance—it must be a romance." He explained that I was too young to write my life as a history: "Who wants to read the history of half a life?" Tragedy, he explained, was "boring." Anyone over the age of thirty can write his or her life as a tear-soaked muddle. "There is no challenge in that," my uncle counseled. "Comedies are fine, but the greatest stories in life are about romance."

I didn’t doubt that my uncle spoke the truth, but there was a problem. I had no experience with romance. None. I was thirty five. Tragedy, I could...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction

"In the end," writes Tori McClure, "I know I rowed across the Atlantic to find my heart, but in the beginning, I wasn't aware that it was missing."

During June 1998, Tori McClure set out to row across the Atlantic Ocean by herself in a twenty-three-foot plywood boat with no motor or sail. Within days she lost all communication with shore, but nevertheless she decided to keep going. Not only did she lose the sound of a friendly voice, she lost updates on the location of the Gulf Stream and on the weather. Unfortunately for Tori, 1998 is still on record as the worst hurricane season in the North Atlantic. In deep solitude and perilous conditions, she was nonetheless determined to prove ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

While McClure-the-writer claims that her first failure and ultimately successful trans-Atlantic row brought her peace, understanding and true love, it is McClure-the-adventurer driven to row 14 hour days on violent seas day after day after day in a vast solitude, fighting storm after storm -- strong, resourceful, alone, competent and utterly complete within herself -- who exhilarates and inspires.   (Reviewed by Jo Perry).

Full Review Members Only (1358 words).

Media Reviews

The Louisville Courier-Journal - Linda Elisabeth Beattie

A Pearl in the Storm is at once the tale of a familiar dilemma and an account of extraordinary courage. But what McClure's profound and powerfully written romance truly proves is that the measure of her heart eclipses the extent of her valor.

Kirkus Reviews

McClure offers her reflections in contemplative, honest language, revealing her meaningful road to self-discovery. An inspirational story of losing pride, embracing humanity and accepting love.

Booklist - Katherine Boyle

Two storm-wracked trips across the Atlantic Ocean become voyages of self-discovery for McClure, as she explains in this epic tale of adversity and triumph.

Author Blurb Candice Bergen
Tori Murden McClure is one of the most remarkable women I have ever met; her journey across the ocean is equal only to her journey of the heart. This is a story of courage, adventure, and personal discovery that will appeal to women--and men of all ages.

Author Blurb Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife
Unlike Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Tori Murden McClure's true story of a woman and the sea and a boat named American Pearl is one of victory. But her triumph is not merely over the elements. Tori finds the courage to cross the inner seas and discover not monsters but a land of promise and an expanded opportunity to love. If you want to be inspired, read this book. You won't stop till you've finished.

Reader Reviews

Carole Scureman

A Pearl in the Storm - you won't be able to put it down!
I chose this book for our book club because I had read it when it first was published and I really liked it. Reading it the second time was even more interesting. I found it fascinating to read about what happened to Tori Murden McClure when she ...   Read More

eva

love this book!
I am a 12 year old girl who decided to read this book when hearing about my mom reading it. And i must say this is a very inspiring and AMAZING book. If you haven't read this book... YOU SHOULD!

Cathy

Excellent adventure!
This was an amazing book from a truly amazing person. Tori Murden McClure has led a fascinating life and does a great job of sharing it with us. The style of writing made the book move quickly and the story was interesting. I can not get over the ...   Read More

Jean

A Pearl in the Storm, How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean
I rarely read non-fiction books, but am very glad that I read this one. It was difficult to put it down. (read it in 1 1/2 days) This is a great story, very well told. The author's mind, heart and spirit are impressive. The words in this story ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

You Don't Have To Go It Alone
Not all adventurers seek solitude. In December 2009, seven women from the Commonwealth countries of Cyprus, India, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, skied together over 800 kilometres across Antarctica to the South Pole "to demonstrate the potential of greater intercultural understanding and exchange, while at the same time highlighting the achievements of women across the world." You can meet the team members and view clips from their heartwarming, but face-freezing journey on the project's website. Team leader Felicity Aston has also led a number of other amazing, creative, and challenging expeditions.


...

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