In this review of Vera Koo’s memoir “The Most Unlikely Champion,” reviewer Fareed Regal writes that hers is an inspiring story. Keep reading to find out more about Fareed’s thoughts on the book and why he gives it 4 out of 4 stars.
Can you imagine a petite, slender-looking Chinese-American woman deciding to take up the sport of pistol shooting at the age of forty-three as a pastime and to learn more about guns? Fast forward twenty-five years and she is an eight-time national champion, a two-time world champion, and a four-time team event gold medal winner at the world championships. This is the inspiring story of Vera Koo, who was a member of the USA World Action Pistol Shooting team from 1999 to 2018.
Vera was born in Hong Kong into a very humble and traditional Chinese Family. When she was twelve years old the family emigrated to America. As much as Vera was adapting well to life in America, she still adhered to Chinese culture in her family relationships. This meant that as a wife, and mother of four children, she was subservient to her husband. She was very fortunate that Carlos, unlike the other Chinese men in their family and social circles, was not having affairs, or mistresses. She was envied by many of her friends for having Carlos as a loyal husband. Was she that lucky or was she just too trusting?
When Vera lost her son at a young age, to kidney disease, she was devastated. She did not know who to turn to, given that the family was not very religious. As a last resort, she turned to God, not through prayer, but conversations. This rapport with God became her beacon and strength that carried her through these difficult times: When their family business was in trouble when she fractured her spine after being thrown from a horse when she tripped at the shooting range and broke her leg, and when her mother was diagnosed with dementia.
I enjoyed reading The Most Unlikely Champion, authored by Vera Koo, due to the interplay between Chinese culture, and building the American dream. Vera firmly believed that her achievements in sport, in business, and her personal life could only be possible in America. She quoted an unknown source, “20% of life revolves around what happens, and 80% revolves around how you respond to what has happened”. Coming from a male-dominated culture, she was not perturbed about entering a male-dominated sport. Her background served as an effective coping mechanism in response to all the insults and bad jokes she was forced to endure. She knew that she would have to work harder than anyone else. Consequently, she only left the practice range once it became too dark to shoot, she traveled far and wide to find the best locations to practice, she started preparing and planning for the annual championships a year in advance, and she sought help from the best shooters in their respective categories. Through sheer grit, a determination to always do her best, and her trust in God, she exceeded even her wildest expectations.
I did not find anything to dislike in this book. The narrative does go into a fair amount of detail about the different types of competitions and the different practice routines required. This was a minor discomfort to endure.
The book was very well edited as I only found 1 grammar error. My rating for this memoir is 4 stars out of 4 as the author succeeded in not only informing us about mere pistol shooting but the sacrifices required to become a champion in whatever discipline you set your mind on.
Multiple audiences spring to mind who will enjoy reading The Most Unlikely Champion: readers who enjoy pistol shooting, readers who are fascinated by different cultures, readers who like literature that deals with the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, and readers who are interested in how people use their relationship with God to help them through challenging periods in their lives.