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The Best at It

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  769 ratings  ·  180 reviews
From actor Maulik Pancholy comes an incredibly charming, heartfelt middle grade debut about Rahul Kapoor, a gay Indian American boy coming into his own in a small town in the Midwest.

Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandf
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Balzer + Bray
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Average rating 4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  769 ratings  ·  180 reviews

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Tucker  (TuckerTheReader)
Mar 11, 2019 marked it as not-released-tbr
That synopsis. That diversity. That cover.

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Why does middlegrade always make me cry? I'm just such a sucker for middlegrade that feels genuine, and this is exactly that.

It was a little slow to start, but when it did, my heart broke for Rahul multiple times, but I was also so proud of him for learning to stand up for himself and learn to be himself.

Rep: gay Indian-American MC with OCD, Indian-American side characters, Japanese-American side character

CWs: bullying, (internalized) racism, homophobia
This is an ownvoice review.

Best at it follows Rahul Kapoor who's the first gen American , (his parents moved frm India) . Rahul enters seventh grade and wants to find something he's good at and wanna be best at. He tries a lot of things like football (or soccer , I don't get american sports) , being a model .. pretty much all the stuff a 12 y/o can think of.

Best at it might sound like a normal middle grade with the MC figuring out their life , but it encounters a lot of casual racism in all the
last year my work friend Anna and I both went to the same library conference but I got sick halfway through the morning and had to leave early, and the next day we had this conversation

me: what'd I miss?
Anna: Well, Jonathan from 30 Rock was there
me: WHAT
Anna: Yeah I guess he wrote a middle grade book and I was like OMG it's Jonathan from 30 Rock but nobody else cared
Anna: I KNOW

Anyway, this is Jonathan from 30 Rock's book! It's funny and I think will be a good window/mirror
4.5 stars
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A super engaging Middle Grade story that covers sexuality, mental health, and discrimination. As Rahul is starting seventh grade he has issues with a bully who makes fun of him for being Indian American and possibly being gay. Rahul thinks if he can just become the best at something, then all of his problems will go away.

I really appreciated this book and how it showed Rahul starting to embrace his own culture more, stand up for himself, and get help for what might possibly be OCD. I think the
I laughed, I cried. Such a wonderfully warm hearted story about a kid trying to figure out who he is. Loved it! This is how it’s done, folks !
It’s like Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda for a younger crowd.
Recommended especially for 4-7 grade.
Ivy Moore
Mar 23, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: came-soon-18-19
Not only is this cover incredible, but tHE PLOT! In 2019 we say YES to teaching kids that it's okay to struggle to find your identity. But, I cannot stress enough, The Cover.
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Could you work any more middle school problems into one book with such grace and resolve them, for the most part, without being either sappy or heavy handed? Just perfect insights into all the characters and their backgrounds, all the situations -competitions, tryouts, dances, classes. Inthink this is the perfect read for 5th grade on up
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtqia
Silly me for thinking this was a light easy book. It deals with racism, prejudice, mental health, different cultures, bullying, and family. I loved it: sweet and full of feelings.

I cried! Real tears rolled down my face at the end of the book. It moved me so much. This was truly a precious book. It made me so angry, though, because of the bully and the racism. But it also made me so happy with the family love and support and the friendships!

Rahul was one tiny fragile cinnamon roll. Overwhelmed by
Rahul and his best friend Chelsea are heading into 7th grade and Rahul is getting more and more nervous. He loves being away from the taunts and meanness of some of the kids in middle school during summer. Besides Chelsea, Rahul's other closet ally is his grandfather, Bhai. Bhai tells him if you want to make it at school find something and become the best at it. Interesting advice that seems like it might work. But Rahul is good at math and it does not seem like the choice that will make him pop ...more
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So cute and heartbreaking at the same time.
I didn't expect it, but the end of the book made me blub a little. Where were these books when I was little and needed them? I related so deeply to Rahul feeling out of place and attacked on all sides.. and his mental health issues mirrored some of my own.
There is hope!!! <3 this book says. And there really is.
I will be saving this book for my future little ones.
Aug 28, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This giving me major Kapoor and Sons vibes and I am here for it!!!
Jul 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read2020
Overall I liked it. I didn't quite get into it until near the end though.
Sonali Dabade
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-reads
I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH! Oh goodness me! It's one of the simplest, easiest books to read but it made me feel things I wasn't prepared for. So much connection happening!

Full review to come soon on my YouTube channel:
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book.

OK, I can't believe I'm not hearing more buzz about this book! It releases on October 8th, and it's a FANTASTIC read. Don't let the fact that an actor wrote it stop you from picking up a copy. It's well written, funny, and an excellent book to add to your collections as it deals with OCD, anxiety, race, sexual orientation, and more.

Rahul is convinced he needs to be the BEST at something, he just doesn't know what. Maybe if he tri
Amy Layton
This book was easily one of the most entertaining and refreshing books I've read.  Filled with humor, culture, and all-too-relatable puberty woes, The Best at It features a young Indian boy struggling with not only his own friendships and sexuality, but with the stark juxtaposition his family brings to his all-white Indiana town.  What was really interesting, to me, was the celebration of all the different ways you could be who you are: his mother and friends wear both jeans and saris, the other ...more
I really enjoyed this semi-autobiographical novel by actor Maulik Pancholy, best known for his role as executive assistant on 30 Rock. While this book is about a boy figuring out his sexuality, it is much more about an Indian boy from Indiana trying to figure out who he is and his place in the world. There are discussions of racism, both external and internal, bullying around sexuality and nerdiness, wanting to be one of the cool kids, family relationships, and friendships. I loved how lighthear ...more
4.5 stars.

Awww The Best at It made me smile so much, it made my heart very warm <3 It reminded me why I love reading middle grade and that I really should read more of it!! We love queer MG, it truly makes me so happy that kids nowadays have more queer books to read ☺️ It's what we deserve!!

This book wasn't perfect, but it was a cute, heartwarming read about learning to love and embrace yourself, because you're amazing (the best 👀) just the way you are 💓

Danielle Hammelef
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a heartwarming book filled with diverse characters I came to love immediately and enjoyed getting to know. Ra and his family are people I would want to be friends with in real life. I found the whole range of emotions inside this hopeful novel--from laughter to loss. I highly recommnd this for all readers. This book deals with friendship, figuring out who you are, learning self-acceptance, sexuality, bullying, and so much more real-life issues.
Apr 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was such a wholesome, genuine book. You can really tell that the author is writing from his own experiences, and I related to too much of this book. It took me back to my seventh grade, and made me feel for Rahul so much. I wish I had this book when I was in middle school! I think it is up there with Wonder as one of the best middle grade books of all time, and it’s relevant with themes of bullying and acceptance, diversity, etc. 5/5 stars and a new favorite.
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A charming and very heartfelt middle grade debut. My 6th graders loved the read-aloud I did with this title. They laughed, and at the end got a little teary eyed. Rahul is a protagonist you root for, even when you know he's going down the wrong path. Book touches on important themes of discrimination, LGBTQ, and bullying. I really enjoyed how much Indian culture was infused in the text. I would recommend for students in grades 5-8.
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Best at It is a sweet wonderful coming of age story. You will love the main character Rahul Kapoor, his family, and friends. You may not love but will come to understand the bully and his group. Count on the author Maulik Pancholy to get you through the tough spots with love and humor. I just used the word “love” three times in three sentences. Great for middle grade or early middle school readers.
Kylie Sparks
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked this book because the character of Rahul is very true to life. I think middle schoolers will see themselves in Rahul and his friends. Rahul is gay, but doesn't know it yet. He's Indian-American and living in a town with almost no diversity. And he's mildly OCD. I could relate to his quest to "be the best"at something--anything--as a way to be accepted. Recommended for 4th-7th graders.
Loved this book! Such a funny realistic diverse book with kid appeal. It strikes the perfect chord between feeling, humor, and heart without being saccharine or didactic. Covers OCD, anxiety, and coming out. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Holly Esterline
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dcf-2020-2021
lovely; the main character has a functional, loving, extended family; bullying, racism, homophobia, coming to terms with being gay, OCD behaviors--lots of heavy topics that don't overtake the likability of Rahul and his friends;
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So so good! I loved it
Elizabeth  Gonda
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Honest. Real. Outstanding. A must read for the middle-level learner!
4.5 Stars

CWs: incurred bullying/harassment, incurred homophobia, depictions of anxiety, panic attacks, and obsessive compulsive tendencies

Maulik Pancholy has written a beautiful debut that is funny, charming, heartfelt, and very necessary.

Rahul is a young gay Indian-American kid who is really working through internalized self-hatred. He's embarassed about the color of his skin, the texture of his hair, and he's terrified at the idea of looking inwards to try and understand who he really is a
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, lgbt
chelsea the most supportive friend in the world 🥺😭💕
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Maulik Pancholy was born on January 18, 1974 in the USA as Maulik Navin Pancholy. His parents immigrated to the United States from Gujarat, India, in the 1960s. Born in Dayton, Ohio, and grew up in Ohio, Indiana, Texas and Florida. He attended junior high and high school in Tampa, Florida. Pancholy was named one of OUT Magazine's 100 most influential gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people f ...more

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