Review by Jerry Shaphan, Published Mar 16, 2020

The Most Unlikely Champion is a memoir by Vera Koo assisted by writer Justin Pahl. Raised in traditional Chinese values, Vera recounts her experiences as she rose in a male-dominated sport, sport-shooting. She also tells of the various challenges she faced as she struggled to observe the Chinese values while also taking her own path in sport-shooting. Vera ironically had been scared of guns for a greater part of her life and had to face her fear of guns after she accidentally fired a gun.

Vera’s story involves success and failure as she juggles between serving her family, managing their business and competing in sport shooting all of which would weigh her down sometimes. Despite all this, Vera not once complained but she carried out her duties. Through her story, Koo hopes to inspire women especially those interested in sport-shooting.

I found Vera’s determination to be inspiring as she demonstrated her eagerness to overcome the many challenges she faced both from her family, business and sport-shooting. I also loved how she connected with the reader. She was able to bring out the excruciating moments she went through because of her descriptive skills to make the reader understand the pain she felt both from her heartbreaking betrayals to her injuries in the sport to her experiences in reviving their business after a great loss. Through all this, Vera was able to fully express her emotions.

The book switched between the author’s most recent and past experiences. It was intriguing since Vera would go back and forth from chapter to chapter but this did not disrupt the flow of the story. Vera greatly loved to compete against herself often setting goals for herself and once she would overcome them she would set new goals as they helped her move forward and improve herself. Vera emphasizes the importance of patience, focus and determination during challenging periods and it was also inspiring how she took challenges as learning opportunities and a way to discover who she really was.

Vera’s faith in God and passion for sport-shooting are what helped her whenever she was facing trouble. She took her problems to be lessons from God especially when she faced the worst thing a parent could go through – losing a child. She loved to push herself beyond her normal comfort zones and Vera never let the fact that she was a woman in a man’s world affect her performance or stop her from pursuing her dreams. She wisely encourages that in order to do your best; you can neither pay attention to others nor worry about what they do.

Being so intriguing and inspiring, I was delighted to rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. The author heavily emphasizing on overcoming challenges, I would recommend this book to anyone looking to be inspired and motivated.

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