Friday, April 10, 2009

Review: A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Collins (April 7, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780061718861
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

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.

I love reading about other people's adventures, especially adventures that I would never consider taking myself. And this is definitely one of those stories.

My rowing experience is limited to about five minutes on a rowing machine in the gym, so the idea of rowing across an ocean is mind-boggling. McClure does a wonderful job of making rowing accessible and interesting, even though I have no desire to take up the sport. She does a great job of describing the Pearl, and I can easily picture the boat. However, I think a few photographs of exactly how small the Pearl is would have added to the story.

I was afraid the story might be a little dry, but that was never the case. McClure's writing is very engaging and flows well. The story of her time in the Atlantic is interspersed with stories of her family and growing up. This is a great way to get to know her, and the stories are often tied to what she was experiencing on the ocean.

I would recommend this exciting book to those who love adventure stories like Into Thin Air. 4.5 stars

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 overland 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, Kentucky. She lives in Louisville with her husband.


Missy B. said...

Wow! I am going to have to read sounds really exciting...and its a true story, which makes it even more special. Thanks for the great review!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I love empowering, true stories. I like them even better when there are pictures (I know, very childish!) but it just makes it more real to me. When you read things like this, it generally shakes me up a bit, in the sense that I need to stop making excuses for why I don't to the things I've always wanted to do!

Amy said...

I like reading stories like this because these are the kinds of things I would just never do!

Zibilee said...

She sounds like an amazing woman.

Nomad said...

Tori Murden McClure rocks, i would love to read her memoirs