Review by ankushavhad, Published Jul 31, 2020

History has witnessed an ideology, quoted as “the most remarkable climb only arrives after a fall,” that rightly fits here. I recalled a famous saying in Hindi “haar ke aage jeet hai” (meaning, “victory is over the defeat,”) we often quote in India. That will prove right when you conclude this book.

The Most Unlikely Champion is an uplifting and inspiring memoir of the author, Vera Koo (“Koo” in short), crafted by Justin Pahl. It is a story about a woman who joins a firearm safety course to overcome the fear of guns. Over time her passion for handling guns makes her goals the most accomplished shooters in the world of sport shooting. Her consistent determination in sports and faith in God transformed her into one of the most accomplished athletes in the world of action pistol.

The author, Koo, a Chinese-American, an early migrant from Hong Kong, writes about her experience as a shooter. A veteran sportswoman of inspiration, Koo is a Bianchi Cup winner of the National Action Pistol Championship. Being a world-class athlete, she feels honored with her sports journey. She narrated her accomplishments in sports, that is a moral tale about ups and downs in her life.

The book opens with an overview of the memoir, followed by an introduction to the author’s background. The stories narrate her involvement in the professional shooting. The incidents are heart-warming and moral in a way she speaks about her life, her family, and her career. The details capture her attributes in terms of hope, love, compassion, and forgiveness. These characteristics merit her personality. In her story, she touched upon her betrayal in relationships, her struggle in keeping cultural values, her ideology in life, as well as the mainstream journey of her in the shooting domain until she makes her goal of pistol champion. You will read in Koo’s experiences about unexpected tragedies, tremendous hurt, and betrayal; and how she faces them confidently by keeping a positive attitude and faith.

The story also highlights some prominent turning points in her life that detail how with a great determination and willpower, she lived with it. She mentions how being kind to others helped her to make adjustments in adverse situations. All those qualities inspired me the most. In this memoir, I found a balanced narration of Koo’s personal and professional life.

The storytelling is professionally organized and to the point. The description of shooting scenarios with clarity of terms used in the shooting sports are made easy to be understood by general readers. After reading her full story, somehow, out of pride, I felt paying gratitude. It made me revisit her photo collection on page 92-97. There, I could see the confidence on her face, then.

The book is a professionally written memoir. It has no overdose of fancy flavor. The formatting and structure of stories suit well for biography oriented books on personalities. Besides a couple of minor typos, the prose obeyed grammatical norms. I liked the entire picture collection. Hovered, the position of photos in the middle of the book disappointed me. I recommend they be listed separately at the end section, if not scattered in the respective contexts. The list of Championships and Records under the Achievements section has turned out a good structure.

I happily give this book 4 out of 4 stars because the memoir has resulted in an excellent book that inspires the readers. I recommend this book to prospective sports personnel. The message in the book will help to motivate the young generation to set their goals in sports or otherwise. Young readers from Asia, mostly from Chinese origin, would praise the book as well.

Original review of The Most Unlikely Champion can be found here.


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