In this review, originally posted at OnlineBookClub.com, Azokamchi reminds us that champions are made, not born. He believes this phrase relates closely to Vera Koo’s story.
Have you ever heard the saying, “champions are made not born?” Vera Koo is one champion whose journey was birthed by her quest for self-discovery and answers to some daunting identity questions. The Most Unlikely Champion, is a memoir recounting the experiences that gave rise to those answers. It captures her essence and the incredible arc of her life as a champion gun shooter. Furthermore, this inspirational story records the fascinating heights, and the unpredictable lows laced with glimpses of beautiful interplay revealing high life values. Vera’s wholesome view of life made her tell her stories with the warmth of someone who loved people and life, despite some difficult times.
According to Vera, gun shooting has been a male-dominated sport. So talent and luck would mostly not be enough for a breed like Vera to survive, let alone emerge as a serial champion for years. For one, her fragile-looking body frame masked her capabilities and camouflaged the determination and energetic spirit of a real winner which she was in the gun shooting sport. Hence, a real validation of an old saying, “looks can be deceiving.” She groomed herself to focus her energy on her strength, as we would later see in her solitude. Prioritizing and setting goals with targets gave her convincing wins in the gun shooting sport and other aspects of life. Nonetheless, she made sure her work and family responsibilities were top on the list.
The Most Unlikely Champion by Vera Koo encompasses a bit of her childhood, marriage, family, her beliefs, and her gun-shooting career. Her story reveals her family’s fast-paced life with cross-country movements (United States, Singapore, and visits to China) while in search of a better life, business, and later for pleasure. They finally settled in the United States, due to the opportunities the US gave to immigrant families at the time. This is where her gun shooting career kicked off while she was in her late 40s. To think that guns terrorized her before her career in shooting started was jaw-dropping. It buttressed the fact that her quest for self-discovery was compelling enough and ensured she went any length for answers.
Initially, my puzzle was, would she succeed in giving readers a pleasurable ride to these answers leading to her status as the most unlikely champion? In this journey, she recounts a couple of life-changing events that revealed the strong marital bond she enjoyed with her husband, Carlos. Her tales on how supporting her husband was, would make any reader yearn for more until his betrayal surfaced. The reader would feel Vera’s pain as his affair rocked the bed of their marriage. This leaves her emotionally numb for years despite her wins at various shooting tournaments. It was at her darkest hour when all her efforts to move on failed that she acknowledged finding God. The journey to her answers took a notable turn at this point, and she shares some of her interesting encounters with God. Her story unravels a couple of life lessons for keeps. They touch on self-discovery, family values, betrayal, healing, shooting, and misconceptions in the gun-shooting sport.
Her recounts were packed full of family twists and turns but engaging. One would also appreciate the hard work, and other values required to succeed. She uses simple terms in her descriptions and it is easy to imagine her experiences and one can walk in her shoes. Of note, she told some of her stories showcasing her Christian faith in a non-offensive way. Though, I think that readers should be aware of this existence of its Christian undertone. I’m glad to say that beyond the answers that emerged in her journey, she grew to accept herself and peoples’ reactions to her small frame. It was quite liberating to know.
My favorite aspect of this book was how well the author’s self-image and character evolved through the book. Other remarkable contributions arose from her upbringing, discoveries in relationships (with her mum, husband, children, parents in law), and Christian beliefs. The way she details her experiences is remarkable.
The writing of The Most Unlikely Champion was impressive. I noticed a few non-distracting grammatical errors which is commendable. My only concern was about the ending of the book; it felt hanging and inconclusive. On this premise, I rate this book a 3 out of 4. There were no profane words. I would recommend this book to the fans of inspirational books and insightful memoirs.
Read the original review at Online Book Club.