3 out of 4 stars
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The Most Unlikely Champion tells a story of Vera Koo, a Chinese-American woman who entered the action pistol shooting world at a relatively old age, but became a champion nevertheless. Raised under traditional conservative Chinese values, she learned early that a woman’s place is to serve her family and her household. Somehow she managed to live up to these values and still built her own path. Not only had she become a businesswoman fulfilling the American dream, but also an eight-time winner of the women’s division of the NRA National Action Pistol Championship, known as the Bianchi Cup.
We enter the story on a moment when Vera Koo gets injured while preparing for her next Bianchi Cup in 2013, already at a relatively old age (66). She recovers surprisingly fast from her injury and is ready to shoot again only a year later, just in time for the next Bianchi Cup. Author Justin Pahl has smoothly sandwiched the story of Vera’s life events in between the story of her miraculous recovery. As the story unfolds, we learn that after raising two healthy girls, she has experienced the death of her own baby boy. She has lived through serious financial turbulences during her working years in business life. She has faced her husband having an affair, not only once but twice. She has struggled to keep her family together and she has also swallowed enormous amounts of understatements in every aspect of her life. Vera Koo has definitely had her share of hardship in life, but somehow she has always pulled through. Author Justin Pahl has managed to capture the life of a very extraordinary woman.
I love reading well-written biographies, and this time was no exception. Every life story is unique and it is always compelling to see how the story unfolds. What I found a bit disturbing, however, was the way how this woman was pictured almost inhumanly perfect. Her character is described to have such a stoic serenity in front of all the bricks life has been throwing her way, that it feels almost impossible. This makes me wonder, was she really such a special character, or is this just the way the author pictured her? Unfortunately I will never know. However, her extraordinary records in action pistol shooting world point to the direction that she might have really been gifted with such unique characteristics. As an ordinary woman, I do find this just a bit disturbing…
Everyone who likes biographies definitely belongs to the target audience of this book. If you consider yourself allergic to religious content, however, you might want to consider twice before reading Vera Koo’s story. The Most Unlikely Champion is a well-written story of an extraordinary, unyielding woman who successfully navigates through a male-dominated world. She herself tends to give the honor of her survival and achievements to God. I personally think that we all could learn something from Vera Koo’s attitude, determination and courage.
I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is not the best biography I’ve ever read, but it is interesting and well written nevertheless. Also the fact that this book was edited professionally deserves to be mentioned. The lack of mistakes makes the reading experience ever smoother.
The Most Unlikely Champion
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