The following is a review written by Michael Hunt and originally published by Online Book Club. Mr. Hunt marvels at the challenges and heartbreak Vera Koo records in her memoir “The Most Unlikely Champion,” and notes that she is a hugely inspiring and positive person. ~ The Editors

The Most Unlikely Champion is a memoir about Vera Koo as told by Justin Pahl (editor’s note: this memoir was written by Vera Koo with help from Justin Pahl). It is a truly inspirational tale about an extraordinary woman. A Chinese-American from Hong Kong, Vera emigrated to San Francisco with her family aged 12. She was raised in a traditional Chinese culture, deferential to her husband and focused on her family (as the mother of 3 children) and on the family real estate business. Then in her 40’s she discovered that her husband, Carlos, was having an affair with a younger woman which left her “dead inside”. Turning to prayer helped but needing to move on with purpose in her life she turned to sport shooting to help her heal by being “too busy and focused to feel pain”. She became a national and world titleholder in the sport of Action Pistol Shooting retiring 6 months before turning 72.

Poignantly the book records various other trials endured by Vera in her life including the death of her son Bryan at just 6 months from severe cirrhosis; fracturing her spine (4th lumbar vertebrae) whilst horseriding (thereafter going on to engage in both windsurfing and skydiving); her brother was shot and killed and her sister-in-law injured during a robbery and then the death of her mother. All of this leaves you wondering how on earth she survived let alone become a world champion in a male dominated sport!

Inspiring and Positive

There are so many positive aspects to this book. Vera’s self-belief, endurance and emotional stamina are more than impressive. She also clearly embodies the view that pain, betrayal and difficulty do not have to destroy you, they can make you stronger (“how to get up after a fall”).

There is nothing negative I can say about Vera’s book. It is hugely inspiring and positive. It is also exceptionally well edited, I found no errors or typos at all.

As to rating that’s easy. Vera’s book thoroughly deserves and gets from me a rating of (b)4 out of 4 stars(b). It is prescient, compelling and thoroughly readable to the point that I was surprised how quickly I read the book, I was so engrossed in it.

This is one of those rare books that have universal appeal. Although it will certainly have added appeal to immigrants, especially Chinese-Americans, and although the subject matter, sport shooting, is particularly US centric, the book’s focus is truly of universal application. Vera clearly subscribes to the theory that in the US it’s possible to be whatever you want to be and in her view her life would not have been possible in any other country on earth.


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