4 out of 4 stars
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The Most Unlikely Champion: A Memoir by Vera Koo with Justin Pahl, it's a tale of Vera's journey from early life until her victorious days in the world of sport as an elderly woman. She is born and raised in Hong Kong, where culture teaches young girls that women's duties are mainly to serve their husbands and households. It says women have no place in the corporate and sports world. At the age of 12, her family relocates to San Francisco. Here she gets exposed to the new American culture. This is a different world altogether. In America, humans are at liberty to pursue and create life according to their aspirations, irrespective of gender. Something new to Vera. But make no mistake, she sure takes advantage of this freedom to carve her own desired path. Even though this means she goes against her upbringing and traditions. Her life interestingly becomes a blend of two opposite cultures. She marries Carlos, and they are blessed with four children. As a middle-aged Chinese-American woman, she enrolls in a firearm safety course to allay her fear of guns. The decision that changes the trajectory of her life. She becomes the first and only woman to win a total of eight National Women's titles in the history of the NRA. The competition is held every May in Columbia, Missouri, and is known as Bianchi Cup. In addition, she is the first woman to place on its overall 20.
However, all these achievements were not without formidable hurdles. One after the other, adversities streams into her life. She loses her infant son, Bryan, to liver cancer. How devastating! What parent wants to bury their child? Isn't it supposed to be the other way round? It gets even more difficult when her mother-in-law succumbs to a long illness and passes only 18 months after Bryan's passing. While preparing for a Bianchi Cup competition, a terrible accident happens and leaves her with a fractured leg. Her patience is tested while waiting to recover from this ordeal. Will this ever end? Daily, she continues to work hard with Carlos to revive their real-estate business that is on the edge of bankruptcy. Only to discover her trusted husband is cheating. The news of her brother being killed is another defeating blow. In her true character, though, she beat the odds and becomes an accomplished professional women's shooter. Something unlikely for a woman of her stature; petite, middle-aged, and in a male-dominated sport. But how does she bounce back from all of that and come out on top? Trials and tribulations are inevitable in accomplishing success in whatever chosen endeavors. "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."
This is an inspirational read that has captured my interest from the onset. I am amazed by Vera's courage, work ethic, and tenacity. These traits have become instrumental to her success. The book highlights the importance of support structure for one to succeed. Vera receives unwavering support from her husband and daughter, Christina. On hearing of her mother's accident, she drops everything to take the next flight to be by her bedside. Another support she receives from her first teacher. He sees potential in her and encourages her to join shooting competitions.
I particularly enjoyed seeing Vera grow from strength to strength. Her faith continuously grew stronger to see her through life's challenges. Honestly, I could not find anything to fault about the book. If anything at all, I am motivated to keep moving. I realize no challenge comes your way except what you are equipped to handle. Great work by Vera and her co-author, Justin Pahl, for a descriptive introduction. It sparks interest. The story is relatable and easy to read. Applause goes to the editor for exceptional work. I came across no errors. What an empowering book for all females who aspire to make it in male-dominated fields. All humans facing all kinds of challenges regarding their personal and professional lives will pick one or two nuggets of wisdom from the book. One of my favorite quotes is "My solitude is my strength."
Her one idea mentioned in the foreword, "She hopes that people, especially women, will recognize aspects of their lives in hers." She achieved that in more ways than one. Having said that, I rate the book a well-deserved 4 out of 4 stars. In my African culture, women are still expected to put the needs of their husbands and in-laws first. I have seen women abandon their dreams in support of their husbands'. Her story is universal.
The Most Unlikely Champion
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