The Best at It

By: Maulik Pancholy

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 grandfather Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at. And become the BEST at it.

Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Miller will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge… But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?

ISBN: 9780062866417

JLG Release: Mar 2020


Sensitive Areas: Language: Mild Language
Topics: Identity , Anxiety , Middle schools , Bullying , East Indian Americans , Family life , Indiana , Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) , Mathletes , LGBTQ

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Awards & Honors

CPL Best Books - 2019
Stonewall Book Award Honoree - 2020

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Kirkus Reviews*, Publishers Weekly*, Booklist*, School Library Journal

School Library Journal

When rising seventh grader Rahul Kapoor panics about fitting in at middle school, his grandfather tells him to find something he’s really good at and be the best at it. But Rahul finds that difficult. Could he be the best at football? At acting? At math? Adding to Rahul’s anxiety, his macho Indian uncles keep suggesting that he might be gay, an When rising seventh grader Rahul Kapoor panics about fitting in at middle school, his grandfather tells him to find something he’s really good at and be the best at it. But Rahul finds that difficult. Could he be the best at football? At acting? At math? Adding to Rahul’s anxiety, his macho Indian uncles keep suggesting that he might be gay, and neighborhood bully Brent taunts him about it, too. Rahul’s struggles will resonate with many kids. He works hard to come to terms with liking boys while having anxiety about being good at things, being well liked, and being Indian American in a small, predominantly white town. Rahul is a compelling protagonist, and his challenges ring true. Sometimes Pancholy talks around topics: though the book ends with Rahul coming out to his friends and family, his being gay was only previously mentioned in vague terms, primarily as an insult from Brent. Similarly, though Rahul exhibits some signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety, they are only briefly addressed near the end, when Rahul’s dad decides to take him to a therapist. While the writing is always engaging, it is at times challenging to hold on to the many narrative threads. Hand this to middle grade readers who are navigating changing social dynamics as they come of age.

Book Details

ISBN

9780062866417

First Release

March 2020

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8 1/4" 5 1/2"

Page Count

336

Accelerated Reader

Level 4; Points: 8;

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Balzer + Bray

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Language: Mild Language

Topics

Identity, Anxiety, Middle schools, Bullying, East Indian Americans, Family life, Indiana, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Mathletes, LGBTQ,

Standard MARC Record

Download Standard MARC Record

Cover Art

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Book Genres

Realistic Fiction

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