In this review of Vera Koo’s memoir “The Most Unlikely Champion,” written by Humeyra Karakas for Online Book Club, Karakas notes that Vera has had a life of extraordinary hardships and success. Continue reading to find out more …

The Most Unlikely Champion is a memoir of Vera Koo’s life written with the help of author Justin Pahl. Vera is a Chinese-American woman who immigrated to San Francisco at the age of 12 and was raised as a traditional Chinese lady. She grew up in a culture where men were considered superior and women were expected to care their families first. However, she was destined to exist in settings which are mostly dominated by men-sports, real estate business. She met her love, Carlos, and they got married and had 4 kids. Although she loved him dearly, she encountered many hardships during their marriage- loss of a child, abusive father-in-law, accidents, financial problems, betrayal. However, regardless of how tough her life was instead of complaining about them, she learnt her lesson and grew stronger. Struggles she faced helped her find out who really she was and gave her an opportunity to transform the destructive energy she had into a constructive form.

Not even touching a gun before her 40s, she was terrified with guns. To overcome this fear she started taking a firearm safety course back in 1980s. Back then, she did not know but this was the first step toward becoming an eight-time winner in the women’s division of the Bianchi Cup and earning medals in National and International level competitions. Her success was not a coincidence at all. She was well prepared for the competitions by practicing under any weather conditions, shooting all day long 1000 rounds every day for a week, setting small goals to achieve big ones. Soon shooting was not just a sport for her. It was also a way of therapy.

With only 188 pages, this book is a fast read. Although she goes back and forth in time to narrate her full story she did such a good job switching timeline between chapters that it did not confuse me at all.

What I liked most in this book is the fact that Vera gives many important life lessons and reminds us some important moral values such as being humble, generous, and forgiving. Being judged by her look during most of her career as a sports shooter, her story is sure to surprise many people and prove their misconceptions wrong.

Extraordinary Hardships and Success

There is nothing I dislike about this book and I found no errors while reading. Hence, I rate The Most Unlikely Champion 4 out of 4 stars. Although, there is no profanity or sexual content, I believe it is best suited for adults due to tragic events mentioned before.

Although Vera’s life is extraordinary in terms of the hardships and success she experienced, what she went through is common. In that sense, it is sure to appeal to a wide range of readers as they will easily relate one or more of the challenges she faced. If you like memoirs and inspirational books (especially empowering stories of women with strict cultural background) you should definitely read this book. Also, I strongly recommend it to readers who want to find out what they are good at, but do not know where to start.


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