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The Best at It

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  232 ratings  ·  65 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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Balzer + Bray
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Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  232 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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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
4.5 stars
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
Mar 23, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coming-soon-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.
Neville Longbottom
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqia, 2019
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
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!!!
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.
Sonali Dabade
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Elizabeth  Gonda
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honest. Real. Outstanding. A must read for the middle-level learner!
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2019, lgbtq, middle-grade
So so good! I loved it
An absolutely precious story! Racial, cultural, and sexual identities all handled with perfect poise. I'm typically very hesitant about going too far into sexual orientation in middle-years books, but this was exactly the right level of discussion in an incredibly accessible manner. Humor, heart, and growth. Way to go, Jonathan! ...more
Ms. Yingling
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Rahul lives in Indiana with his parents, younger brother Arun, and grandfather, whom he calls Bhai. He has a best friend, Chelsea, and is trying to navigate middle school. He's not quite sure what his interests are, so tries out for the football team, partly to show his nemesis, Brent, that he's not afraid to, and partly so that he can be near Justin, whom he thinks is nice. He's not particularly good at sports, and his try out ends disastrously. He also goes on
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
Rahul just wants to be the best at something, anything. But he’s skinny and the target of Brent, one of the biggest bullies at school. He’s also carrying the secret that he’s gay. Brent taunts Rahul into trying out for the football team, which ends up with Rahul not making the team and nursing a hurt ankle. Meanwhile, Brent has figured out Rahul’s secret when Rahul looks a bit too long at Justine in class. Rahul’s best friend Chelsea tries to get Rahul to understand how amazing he is, even if he ...more
Dai Guerra
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rahul is struggling because he wants to find something that he is great at but he falls short in everything that he tries. But in trying all of these things so many more issues are showing up that he doesn't know how to deal with, such as his OCD, his sexuality, bullying, and racism. Much of the bullying that Rahul is facing at school is due to his perceived sexuality by one student, and because Rahul is Indian. Throughout the story, Rahul learns to embrace who he is despite what others may say ...more
It's 7th grade, and Rahul, an Indian-American boy from Indiana, has a pretty good life. He's got great parents, an extended "family" of other Indians and Indian Americans who've known him forever and love to feed him, a wonderful grandfather who lives with them, a younger brother who can be annoying but is basically ok, good grades, and a super-best friend in Chelsea. But there are down sides, primarily Brent, the local bully, and his football cronies, one of whom used to be a friend of Rahul's, ...more
More reviews and book-ish content @ Club Book Mobile & Andrea RBK

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy is an upcoming #ownvoices release. I so loved the way Rahul's story gave voice to a story around intersecting identities that aren't often told. Rahul is a gay teen who is working through mental health issues while growing up in rural Indiana who is navigating all that middle school brings. He's trying to figure out where he fits in, as he tries to manage his own feelings and reactions to life.
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Better Nate than Ever and More to the Story
The Best at It is a solid, enjoyable #ownvoices middle grade story from a debut author, sweet and diverse.

What I liked:
-The Mathletes! As a member of scholar bowl, math competitions, and battle of the books myself, I thought the group dynamics and excitement of competitions were perfectly done! Why don't we see these activities in more books?
-Rahul's coming to terms with being gay was really well done and age-appropriate.
-Over the course of the book, it becomes clear that Rahul deals with some
Alexa Hamilton
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tween
Rahul is your typical middle school boy--sort of. He is wrestling with his identity, and he wants to be the best at something but he doesn't know what. He enlists his best friend Chelsea to help him, and his family is really supportive, so they jump in to help, too. The book meanders around a bit as Rahul tries to figure out what he can do. We get to meet everyone at school, and watch Rahul ignore the Mathletes team even though he is amazing at math. Luckily, Justin gives him a math related ...more
Kyra Nay
At the start of 7th grade, Rahul Kapoor lives in small-town Indiana with his parents, a pesky little brother, his beloved grandfather, and a huge assortment of uncles and aunties. But Rahul is struggling – waking up at all hours, worried about doors left unlocked or stoves left burning, feeling the need to check things, 3,4,5 times. And strange feelings for cute football player Justin aren’t helping matters. His grandfather Bhai notices and advises him to find something he’s good at and become, ...more
This sweet little book for middle grade and young adult readers is everything. It follows the (mis)adventures of a young Midwestern seventh grader, Rahul, whose Indian American family is a constant source of both loving joy and embarrassment for him as he seeks acceptance at school. Neither his family nor his best friend know that he's also gay, and as Rahul sets out to discover that one thing he can be "the best at" he finds himself having to confront the reality of his own complex identity, ...more
I am so bummed. I’d been looking forward to this book for months--a middle grade book about a gay, Indian-American boy! Yes! So needed!--but I was mostly disappointed by it.

Rahul is starting 7th grade. He’s bullied a lot by white football jock Brent, who begins to tease him for having a crush on their classmate, Justin. (Rahul isn’t sure if he actually does have a crush on Justin, or if he just wishes he were athletic, popular, and white like him.) So Rahul decides that life would be better if
This tackled a bunch of different issues, which I thought was admirable. It's super important to make sure that the activism we're doing is intersectional and I thought that was pretty well-represented here with the gay Indian protagonist, who is also hinted to have OCD.

While it touched on a few different things, it didn't go super deep. There are some important notes, like not everyone who is homophobic is secretly gay, but otherwise it's fairly surface level.

This is definitely a light read
Kelly  (UnshelvedEdition)
Do your kids like to read? We have two boys, one is at the age in his life where it isn’t “cool” to read (we haven’t given up hope yet). Our seventh grader recently started to really enjoy reading, as long as I am reading with him, so i absolutely adore middle grade books

The Best At It is the perfect read for any middle school child. The book tackles important themes and issues in the world at such an influential age in a kid’s life. Bullying, racial discrimination, gender stereotypes, LGBT and
Melissa Mcavoy
Rahul has the normal worries about starting seventh grade but there are some buried concerns that start ratcheting up his anxiety and driving compulsive behavior that feels like it should calm fears but only seems to feed them. The feeling of being out of step and less than perfect is a universal part of adolescence and Rahul wrestles valiantly with a host of concerns from ethnicity, to not being talented at the ‘right’ things to worries about his sexual orientation. Happily he has great ...more
Jennifer Ingle
3.5 Stars

It's the story of Rahul in his seventh grade year, figuring out who he is and what he's "best at." The plot is fairly simplistic, and some of the characters are stereotypical and predictable. The themes, such as identity, friendship, and family, are easy to grasp, which might make it a good choice for the average middle school reader. The book does touch upon some more mature topics, including sexual identity and racial discrimination. Both are handled in a way that is appropriate for
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a middle grade book about a 7th grade Indian boy who is coming to terms with his sexuality and also trying to figure out something he’s the best at to make one of his school bullies leave him alone.

The book tackles bullying, racism and homophobia and yet is a sweet story of figuring out who you are and finding a place in the world.

I related to a lot of the themes in this book and I think most middle grade readers will too regardless of whether they have the same story as Rahul. This
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s, 2019
diverse children's middlegrade fiction with LGBTQAI+ interest (Indian-American 7th grader deals with bullies, OCD, and questions whether he might be gay; #ownvoices author)
Rahul is a sweet kid and super adorable for a geeky 7th grade mathlete and I loved spending time with him and his family and friends, and very much wanted to see how his story works out. I don't think I could have asked for more out of this middlegrade book.

Also recommended, Better Nate Than Ever for another absolutely sweet,
Cynthia Parkhill
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moving story about a boy who is determined to be the "best at" something. The protagonist, Rahul, already excels at math, but he resists joining the school "Mathlete" competition because he's convinced it will brand him as a nerd. Rahul also struggles with compulsive and anxious behavior, and homophobic bullying by a classmate. Nice parts to this book are that Rahul has supportive friends and accepting parents and grandfather who love him unconditionally. As his father puts its, "Rahul. Whether ...more
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a sweet middle-grade story that LGBT+, nonwhite kids will probably really relate to and really benefit from reading. It’s always nice to see yourself in characters. But the characters are relatable and likable for anyone - the family at the center of this is warm and loving, the friendships feel authentic, and Rahul’s story of discovering who he is (and wants to be) is universal. I really enjoyed living in this world, and Maulik Pancholy has the perfect writing style for this age group. ...more
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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 ...more
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