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A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean Hardcover – April 7, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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. McClure details her attempts to become the first woman to row across the Atlantic, interspersed with reflections on challenges she has faced in the past. She recounts her struggles to protect her developmentally disabled brother, Lamar, from abuse by neighborhood children; her time at Harvard’s divinity school; and her work with the homeless, all the while describing her battles through towering waves and fierce storms. Her tiny vessel, the American Pearl, is battered by winds throughout the journey, forcing McClure to come to terms with her own vulnerability. Throughout it all, she relies on a loyal cadre of friends who help her attain her goals. Yet, for McClure, perhaps the greatest accomplishment is learning to accept her own weaknesses as she submits to the whims of the ocean swells and allows herself to become receptive to the myriad possibilities of life. --Katherine Boyle


“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.” (Candice Bergen)

“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. If you want to be inspired, read this book. You won’t stop till you’ve finished.” (Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife)

“For those six billion or so of us on planet Earth today who will never row across an ocean, this extraordinary narrative by one fellow human who did so transports us to places beautiful, haunting, daunting, terrifying, and uplifting.” (Roy Hoffman, author of the novels Almost Family and Chicken Dreaming Corn)

“In this fine book, Tori McClure generously gives us at the same time a wonderfully told adventure story and a moving account of a storm-wracked journey through self-discovery into healing. . . .” (Charles Gaines, author of The Next Valley Over)

“The reader of this book encounters a rare spirit whose courage is an inspiration.” (Jill Ker Conway, author of The Road from Coorain)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061718866
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061718861
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #924,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Tori Murden McClure

Tori is the President of Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She is best known as the first woman and first American to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She rowed a twenty-three foot boat alone and without physical support a distance of more than 3,300 miles. Tori was one of two women and six Americans who were the first women and first Americans to travel over land to the geographic South Pole, skiing 750 miles from the ice shelf to the pole. An avid mountaineer, Tori has climbed on several continents and she was the first woman to climb Lewis Nunatuck summit in Antarctica. She is an Emergency Medical Technician in both urban and wilderness areas. She is also a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School semester courses in Alaska and Kenya.

Tori earned her A.B. from Smith College, a Masters in Divinity from Harvard University, a Juris Doctor from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, and a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing from Spalding University. She was admitted to the practice of law in 1995 and is a lawyer in good standing with the Kentucky Bar Association.

Professionally, Tori has worked as Chaplain at Boston City Hospital, the executive director of a shelter for homeless women, as a public policy assistant for the Mayor of Louisville, and she worked for Muhammad Ali to assist with early efforts to create the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. Tori serves on the Board of Trustees for Smith College and for the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Tori is the recipient of multiple international honors. Thor Heyerdahl presented her with the Peter Byrd Trophy; Tori was the first woman to be honored with this award. In Paris she was recognized along with Lance Armstrong by L'Academies des Sport for significant sporting achievement. At the Moscow International Festival of Mountaineering and Adventure Films, the French documentary "Beyond Limits - Tori Murden," took the prize for the "Best Foreign Adventure Film," and Dr. Yuri Aleksandrovich Senkevich awarded Tori with a Russian chalice for extraordinary achievements.

Stories about Tori have appeared in more than fifteen books and more than thirty major magazines. Tori has appeared on national television shows including Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN Domestic and International, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Late Night with David Letterman, Exhale with Candice Bergen, The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, The Rosie O'Donnel Show, Inside Edition, The 34th Annual Victor Awards (Fox Sports Network), The Discovery Channel, "Storm Warnings," "Beyond Limits - Tori Murden" French Television TF-1, The Travel Channel "World's Most Dangerous Sporting Events," and National Geographic, "Base Camp."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A Pearl in the Storm is a fantastic read. With the prerequisite white knuckle moments of a good adventure book, it draws you in and keeps you there. Tori Murden McClure sweeps the reader along as she attempts to become the first woman to solo row the Atlantic Ocean. I found myself gripped with apprehension as the communication systems went out, bracing for the next big wave, and pondering, as the author does, about when she would need to call for help and abandon her quest.

However, to categorize this book strictly as an adventure book would be a mistake.

It is first and foremost a book about human nature and the internal battles we all fight in the course of our lives. Whether you are a scholar, an athlete, both (like Tori) or neither, this is a universal experience. Through the seemingly impossible goals the author sets for herself --- whether it is through her academic endeavors, career choice, or the row across the Atlantic --- she attempts to defeat these demons. She isn't always successful, in fact, her first attempt to row across the Atlantic ends in failure, and this defeat almost ends her battle. But that defeat ultimately leads Tori to understand that her demons are what, in fact, make her human. The human battle described within these pages is the facet of the book that I found so compelling. Tori's adventure appeals broadly--not just to super-athletes--but to all of us who have taken up, abandoned, revived, achieved and learned from our personal journeys.

Read this book for an inspiring story about one woman's quest to understand herself. You'll recognize yourself in Tori's human voice and take heart. She takes us on her adventure to be the first woman to successfully row across the Atlantic, and ultimately, on her quest for happiness.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
from life. Not that they deserve a beating, it's just that they come into this world saying, "Bring it on." They don't sit on the edge of the universe murmuring, "I wonder what life holds? I'm not sure if I'm strong enough to face it." Instead they say, "I don't give a care if I'm strong enough, I'm jumping in and I'm going to make a difference." And when they get bruised, you won't hear them whine. As a matter of fact, they're just a wee bit proud of those contusions. It's not that they're looking for trouble, they're just trying to set their corner of the world straight.

While most of us are running for cover or dialing 911, they're running full throttle toward danger and giving the bottom feeders a piece of their mind and a fist to the mouth. They don't fight for the sake of fighting. They are the defenders of the those without voices. They know life isn't going to be good to the "weak", so they are going to do some equalizing by all means available to them.

Tori Murden McClure is one of these people. She is clear thinking and passionate. Her brother Lamar is the driving force behind her mission to set people and the system straight. She fought for him nearly every day of her young life. Every child with learning challenges should have a sister like Tori. She is a role model that all children can look up to. Not because of her rowing skill, but because she was unwilling to let her brother's bullies have the power. So many kids feel powerless and unequipped to break away from the crowd and defend the weak. Tori never felt that conflict.

If anyone can take a beating from the Atlantic during hurricane season and not lose their mind or their heart, it is Tori McClure. Her internal navigation system is true and her sanity is not swayed by uncontrollable circumstances.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In the introduction, the author asks her uncle, "If I write a book about my explorations, should I write it as a comedy, a history, a tragedy, or a romance?" With this book, Tori Murden McLure succeeds wonderfully on all four counts -- and so much more. This book is indeed an inspiration for anybody who has ever had (or ever will have) difficult goals or obstacles in their lives. And she does it all with never a boring word. Now that I've finished reading this book, I know it's one that I'll read more than once.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"You don't want to go through life as the woman who almost rowed across the Atlantic." So Muhammad Ali advises Tori Murden when she is vacillating between attempting another try at rowing across the Atlantic after a soul and body-battering first attempt and failure.

Fortunately for us, Tori was not willing to concede defeat in her attempt. This book is a remarkable tale of adventure and self-testing, of pride and humility, of failure and winning. She proves that it is not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up again that count. We all know this but few of us have the courage to act upon it.

Tori Murden is a special person. Her story relates many of the obstacles she had to overcome to reach the heights she has attained. It didn't seem as if she was bragging but was just being very factual about her life's journey. From a young age, she has acted as guardian of her older but mentally handicapped brother Lamar, she fought the neighborhood bullies, sometimes unsuccessfully, she overcame tremendous obstacles of being a highly intelligent but misplaced youth; she had guardian angels and helping hands along the way to be sure, but 95% of her victories were self-attained. She also has had a long history of giving back to her community wherever that might be, even to putting herself in danger and going where lesser souls might not, would not travel.

Not only has Tori rowed twice across the Atlantic (her first attempt was aborted only a few hundred miles from her goal), but she quickly glosses over the fact that she has trekked to the North Pole and was one of the first women to reach the South Pole on the overland route. Climb mountains, cross jungles, traverse the worst of inner-city neighborhoods. What an inspiration!
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