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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 132 customer reviews

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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)

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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 (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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 Verified Purchase
I read this book thinking it would be an interesting adventure story about what it was really like to attempt a solo crossing of the Atlantic ocean -- courage in the presence of doubt, perseverance in the presence of pain, triumph over adversity. While those elements are certainly present, they are buried within a much larger autobiographical story and a thematic tone that comes across as self aggrandizing. The author's self-confidence comes across as arrogance, her knowledge and experience come across as haughty, and her noble intentions come across as pompous. She paints a picture of her personality akin to a steamroller, or perhaps a bulldozer: willing to flatten anything that gets in the way of achieving her objectives in life.

The author spends the first 2/3 of the book on her first, failed attempt at crossing the ocean; interwoven in the narrative is a lot of biographical back story starting at the age of two and continuing through her college years. The vast majority of the background is irrelevant to the story at hand, furthermore, the casual name dropping (in a way that does not advance the story) is just irritating. The romance (it is supposed to be a romance story, after all) is relegated to just a few pages and seems to have been added as an afterthought. In the same fashion, the second, successful, crossing is tacked on to the end of the book with almost no discussion on what worked, or didn't work, the second time around. In fact, I was really hoping for more insight on the second journey, not only the journey itself, but the aftermath and how a highly introverted person handled the inevitable attention that came with it.

I was really hoping for more from this book.
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