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The Best at It

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,854 ratings  ·  383 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 4.22  · 
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 ·  1,854 ratings  ·  383 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
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 aspects of Rahul's life.

Aug 17, 2022 rated it liked it
As he heads into seventh grade in his small town in Indiana, Rahul increasingly struggles with his growing anxiety, worries that he might be gay, and desires to fit in to his mostly white junior high school. When Rahul's beloved grandfather tells him a story about his passionate grandma, an engineer who overcame prejudice by being the best student in her school, Rahul interprets this to mean that he also must become the very best at something. He tries out for the football team and auditions as ...more
max theodore
ownvoices middle grade book abt a gay indian middle schooler with an anxiety disorder (which for the record hit me right in the ocd) that's incredibly sweet and made me tear up once or twice but also balances the heartfelt/emotional aspects with lighthearted scenes... dude we LOVE to see it. we love to see it! rahul i love you dearly. 4 stars rather than 5 because i'm not the target audience & so i wasn't completely obsessed, but, like, peak content, would have my heart warmed again.

(bonus point
this was so heartwarming and i finished it in one sitting <3

★★★★☆ // 4 stars

— representation: gay indian-american mc with OCD, indian scs, japanese-american sc

— trigger warnings: bullying, racism + internalized racism, homophobia
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
 ⛅ Saniya (sunnysidereviews) ⛅
DNF @ pg 110

This had such a great concept, but the writing wasn't my cup of tea.
Ris Sasaki
Jun 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 ⭐

Even though I finished this book 1 hour ago, I miss those characters so so much that my chest hurts 😭

I came to realize that middle grade books are absolutely THE BEST WAY to consume LGBTQA+ content.
They're educational, wholesome, whimsical, emotional, touching, funny and sad all at the same time.

Even though I was expecting more of the topic of discovering your own sexuality and the struggles that comes with it, this didnt left me disappointed at all.

Overall, a really good and cute read ♥
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
Nathan Bartos
Read this gay little middle-grade! No, there's not really a romance (but it's middle-grade so not really a big surprise) but it's beautiful and heartwarming and fun. The struggles that Rahul faces in every facet of his identity are explored really well, and I think his journey to find where he belonged was a really enjoyable one. I absolutely loved his friendship with Chelsea and her support. I think my biggest problem was the "closeted homophobe" trope that is just...not usually the case. But o ...more
Pooja Kumar
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
Oh, this book made me cry happy tears!
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
Kristel (hungryandhappy)
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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.
Sep 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED it! Cute, sweet, funny, awkward, charming, heartwarming, tear-rolling goodness. A beautiful exploration of the challenges of trying to find your place and fit in amongst peers while simultaneously being encouraged by family to embrace your differences and uniqueness. Though it’s target audience is middle school readers, The Best at It is deep and complex but skillfully written in such a way as to be digestible for those readers and entertaining and immersive for readers of all ages.

Eva B.
Probably more of a 4.5, some elements at the end (although more penultimate stuff than the actual end) felt a bit rushed but this made me feel lots of emotions. I highly recommend this one to anyone, regardless of if they're in its demographic or not. ...more
Jul 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A book that follows an Indian-American gay kid discovering himself & fighting with anxiety, homophobia and bullies ?

𝕋𝕙𝕖 𝔹𝕖𝕤𝕥 𝔸𝕥 𝕀𝕥 by Maulik Pancholy is a book not to be missed! It's middle grade but can be enjoyed by person of any age.

It's a sweltering hot summer in Indiana and the last day of summer vacation. We are introduced to two energetic kids Rahul & Chelsea and one much more energetic elder, Bhai (Rahul's grandfather).

A well meaning advice given by Bhai 'find one thing you're really g
Hiroko Z
Rahul Kapoor, an Indian American boy is a 7th grader in Greenville, Indiana. He doesn't know how he really feels about this school year, especially with kids like Brent, who won’t stop bugging him, watches his every move, and teases him. But maybe he can surprise everyone by finding something to do that no one expects, and become the best at it, with the help of his best friend, Chelsea. But trying to be the best at something is hard for Rahul, since people already underestimate him as an Indian ...more
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
Phoenix (Books with Wings)
Aug 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this book some time ago, I forget if it was at the end of July or beginning of August because I *kinda* forgot that I read this book when I was doing things like writing my monthly wrap up on my blog (makes me wonder how many more books I've actually read that I'm just totally blanking on...) but this was a super sweet middle grade book! I read it really quickly, and it was easy to read, but the story was nice and I really enjoyed it! ...more
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!!!
lise hoyer
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. ...more
Jennifer Mangler
May 02, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grades
What a sweet story! I love Rahul and his friends and family.
Feb 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In this book I really felt for Rahul. I was rooting for him at every turn, and during the part with the Mathletes I was really tense. I would recommend this book to any middle schooler who enjoys reading about themselves.
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
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 💓

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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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