Review by quaintrelle4, Published Oct 7, 2020

Within the journey of life flows the inevitable stream of woes and hardships bifurcating into two distinct paths: the fall, where you give up and allow the challenges of life to crush you down and the rise, where you see yourself climbing up life’s mountain of distress, until you clutch for victory, as you reach the pinnacle of success. The latter epitomizes the life of Vera Koo—an immigrant born in Hong Kong, a mother of four, and the most unlikely champion.

At the senior age of 49, Vera sets her mark in the male-dominated world of sport-shooting, forging a 22-year path of success characterized by winning streaks and world-breaking records. She is on the cusp of leading more victories when an accident threatens to halt her career. Until then, Vera was just a housewife, a supporting business partner to her husband, and a mother. She was raised in a traditional Chinese family where there were little expectations for women to be successful, particularly in male-dominated fields. Then, an unusual path led her to shooting and to remarkable succession of achievements thereafter.

As she rehabilitates herself back into shape, she hinges on to the elements of her past, including family mysteries, losses, and betrayals; biological attributes; financial losses; and above all faith, which have paradoxically catapulted her to victory against all odds. Will this be enough for her to win more titles or will this signal the end of the road for her shooting career? That is the mystery to uncover in The Most Unlikely Champion—a memoir written by the book’s main character, Vera Koo, with contributions from Justin Pahl.

This non-fictional account shines in its ability to keep readers engrossed through relatable characters. It will take you into a whirlpool of emotions as you unveil the foundational elements that make Vera, a seemingly quintessential housewife, the most unlikely champion. You will grieve at the sacrificial love Vera bears in the absence of returned gratitude. You will be left amazed at the colossal strength she musters when faced with sudden loss and tragedy. Lastly, you will be humbled by Vera’s vulnerability—palpable through the raw details shared—her positivity, gratitude, and unwavering faith amidst a backdrop of pain, trials and tribulations.

The book is well-written with minor errors. The writing style is infused with child-like innocence intricately woven with a unique kind of suspense that makes the book flow seamlessly. Given the salient themes highlighted, caregivers; immigrants and patriots of the United States; women; and the elderly will be drawn to this read. Christians can also be counted among the target audience, arguably more so for the Christ-like characters Vera displays (e.g. faithfulness, long-suffering and patience) as opposed to her theological knowledge—which cannot be fully appreciated as she is, at the time the book was written, in the fledgling stages of her faith.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I loved that it gave the glory to God, and served as a reminder that sometimes, winning has more to do with the state of our mind and our faith rather than the brilliant strategy we may have. I do wish the author had used biblical references to explain some of the conclusions she reached regarding such experiences as the loss of her child. All in all, I give this book a four out of four stars.

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


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