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An intriguing account with insights into competition and control.

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A woman recounts how she conquered the male-dominated world of competitive shooting in this debut memoir.

Koo does not fit the usual profile of an expert pistol shooter. Her race, gender, and age all make her something of an outlier, but this has not kept her from becoming a record-setting winner at “the NRA National Action Pistol Championship, known as the Bianchi Cup.” The Hong Kong–born, San Francisco–raised Koo did not even begin shooting until her late 40s, and so this memoir has quite a bit to cover of the champion’s life before she ever picked up a gun. She discusses her early years in China and the experience of immigrating to California, where her conservative parents continued to keep a traditional Chinese household. She describes meeting her future husband, Carlos, with whom she would raise children and start a real estate business—though both those things included significant strife and tragedy. Koo alternates between recounting a career-threatening accident in 2013 and her subsequent recovery and trials from earlier in her life: the death of one of her children in infancy, her husband’s extramarital affair, and her first firearm safety class, which she enrolled in specifically to allay her fear of guns. Throughout her meteoric rise in the world of shooting, she reaffirmed her faith in God, her family, and herself—a woman who never allowed men to determine her place in the world. With the help of debut author Pahl, Koo tells her story in accessible, precise prose that mimics her controlled persona while nevertheless displaying some affecting cracks: “I couldn’t stop looking at the photo. As I stared at it, I started to shake uncontrollably. I felt like my legs had been cut out from beneath me. Who was the woman, and what was she doing with my husband?” Readers acquainted with Koo’s shooting career will likely be especially interested in this book, but much here is familiar and universal. As an immigrant, mother, and wife committed to her family business, Koo will likely remind many readers of close relatives or themselves.

An intriguing account with insights into competition and control.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-8849-8

Page Count: 188

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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