Reviewed by: Anthony Avina.
The American entrepreneur Whitney Wolfe Herd once said, “Feminism is not about girl power. It is about equal power.” In authors Vera Koo’s and Justin Pahl’s book, The Most Unlikely Champion: A Memoir, the authors explores this concept by sharing the struggles and ways in which she overcame the odds in her journey to become one of the world’s foremost and accomplished sport shooters.
With great contributions from author Justin Pahl, this memoir shares the life of Vera Koo, who at the age of 70 held a grand total of 8 winning titles in the Bianchi Cup Action Pistol Championship. Yet it’s not only her success in athletics that takes center stage as the author expertly navigates the highs and lows of her life both personally and professionally. From growing up in a very traditional Chinese household and being taught that a woman’s role was to serve her husband, to moving and growing up in San Francisco after being born in Hong Kong, and even recalling her first date with her husband and the powerful love they shared together for over fifty years, the memoir of this incredible person is a story of inspiration and overcoming an overwhelming number of odds.
The author does a marvelous job of navigating the complex road many women face when raised on “traditional” values versus the independence and inner power that many women have strived for over the last few decades. Balancing the responsibility of being a mother and wife, she was taught to dedicate her life to her family, as she also had the journey of becoming her own person who speaks up for herself. The author is fantastic at showcasing the struggles in her own life and what it was that helped her overcome those odds. From the dangers many married couples face to the pain which comes from tragically losing a child and the physical and mental recovery process one undergoes after a major injury, this memoir covers a wide spectrum of aspects of life everyone can identify with, making the narrative as a whole much more relatable.
This is definitely a book for anyone who enjoys memoirs, the sport of professional shooting and inspiring stories overall. While I might not be the most pro-gun advocate in the world, nor the most religious, what I found so engaging about this story was the incredible strength this amazing author showcased in her work. Overcoming hardships as a young woman in a male dominated Chinese heritage, a male dominated sport overall and some of the most grueling and emotional things a married woman or mother could ever have to endure, the author still managed to push through and find a way to overcome those hardships, something not everyone is able to do.
This is a phenomenal read that anyone who enjoys memoirs or inspirational stories should page for themselves. Filled with truly powerful emotions, insight and a series of personal stories which instantly connect the reader to the author, this is a book people of all different backgrounds can find themselves connecting to. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of The Most Unlikely Champion: A Memoir by Vera Koo and Justin Pahl today.