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A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Oceanby Tori Murden Mcclure
Synopses & Reviews
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.
The simple facts are enough to exhaust you right off the bat: a 28,000-pound, 23-foot-long boat. Two oars. One woman. A 3,600-mile journey. Fourteen-hour days of nonstop rowing. "A Pearl in the Storm," Tori Murden McClure's account of her quest to be the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean, makes clear that the challenge — even for a woman who could bench-press 650 pounds — was daunting.... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) For three months McClure endured relentless monotony, intense loneliness, punishing physical pain and, most incredibly, a hurricane that pummeled the American Pearl with 30-foot waves, flipping it more than a dozen times, sometimes end to end, beating and battering McClure nearly to death. Thankfully, her voyage also included exquisite beauty: the thrum of whales singing in the deep, dolphins carving watery arcs across her oars and the shimmering phosphorescence of a nighttime sea. No question about it: "A Pearl in the Storm" is a rip-roaring adventure tale. But woven into its fabric, in alternating chunks of narrative, is another story: the author's effort to understand her life on land, including the helplessness she felt growing up with a disabled brother who was badly bullied and, in one excruciating episode, assaulted while she watched. McClure's rage at her inability to protect him became the driving force of her life. She decided to go to law school, she explains, because "I wanted to understand the law for the same reason I wanted to understand a chain saw: competence trumps helplessness." Yet neither her law degree nor the divinity degree she acquired earlier at Harvard provided the control or peace of mind she craved. For all her accomplishments, McClure kept colliding with things she couldn't fix. She perceived herself as a loner, helpless in the face of evil, disheartened by the gap between the life of the mind and the struggles of the real world. And so she went to sea alone in a small boat. When her first attempt failed, she returned to land, where, instead of the elements, she fought depression and "a tragic loss of clarity." It's impossible not to marvel at the author's grit and determination as she prepared for a second attempt at the transatlantic record. But despite the built-in drama that powers this book, the writer's voice can sometimes seem oddly detached and mechanical, her cadence flat, as if driven by the same sheer will and emotional toughness required to survive a solitary row across an ocean. As it turns out, McClure eventually stumbled into love, and with it came, finally, a measure of wisdom and a different take on the demons that have plagued her. "Our helplessness makes us human," she writes. "Love is what makes our humanity bearable." McClure's superhuman feat will live on in the record books. But she seems to have realized that her personal victory — the discovery of happiness and a meaningful life — is equally worth celebrating. Not only does she come back alive, she finds her land legs, too. Reviewed by Suki Casanave, who is a freelance writer in Newmarket, N.H., Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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“If you want to be inspired, read this book. You wont stop till youve finished.”
A Pearl in the Storm is the true story of Tori Murden McClure, the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean. McClures memoir, subtitled, “How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean,” is more than a woman-against-the-elements adventure tale; it is, in the words of actress Candice Bergen, “a story of courage, adventure, and personal discovery that will appeal to women and men of all ages.” Beautiful, breathtaking, moving, and inspiring, A Pearl in the Storm will appeal to the millions of readers who made Eat, Pray, Love a resounding success.
About the Author
Tori Murden McClure is the vice president for external relations, enrollment management, and student affairs at Spalding University. Her firsts include being the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic and to ski over land to the South Pole. She has an AB from Smith College, where she currently serves on the board of trustees, a master's in divinity from Harvard University, a JD from the University of Louisville School of Law, and an MFA in writing from Spalding University. She has worked as a chaplain at Boston City Hospital and for Muhammad Ali at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband.
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