I’m starting off with a great contemporary story that has been on my reading pile for way too long. I couldn’t even recall how it got there. Then I did a quick Google search with MMGM and THE BEST AT IT as the key words. I should have guessed what popped up first. A review late last year from super human blogger and librarian, Karen Yingling. She does daily reviews over at Ms. Yingling Reads. Be sure to check out all of her marvelous reviews, even when it’s not Monday!

I love the cover with new seventh grader, Rahul Kapoor, reaching out but never quite catching something he’s good at. He lives in Indiana with his family, who originally moved there from India. Rahul is a little embarrassed by his Indian culture and wishes Mom and Dad wouldn’t put it out there so much. His head is also swimming with other problems and not just the math kind.

He wants to have success in a sport or acting or anything that would bring positive attention to himself. Brent, his nemesis, is always letting anyone within earshot know what’s wrong with Rahul. Then there’ s perfect Justin who’s natural good looks and talent can’t go unnoticed and Rahul has been staring at him a lot.

Does he want to be like Justin or does he really “like, like” the boy. Add to all of this are OCD tendencies that have him rechecking to make sure doors are locked and his bed is far enough away from the electrical socket. Not just once but several times. Being a seventh grader is down right exhausting.

Told from Rahul’s first person narrative, the emotion is heart wrenching and real. Despite being over 300 pages. the 37 chapters take readers on a journey of discovery and one that will be hard to put down. Here’s the official blurb from Harper Collins:

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 Mason 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?

Book Birthday: October 8. 2019    Page Count: 336


THE BEST AT IT by Maulik Pancholy

  1. Rahul’s family is a real treat to be around. Mom, Dad, and grandfather are always doing what is best for Rahul. He knows there is always someone there in case he ever wants to talk about any of his growing concerns. Bravo for depicting a loving family we don’t see too often in MG books.
  2. His best friend Chelsea should be the poster child for what makes a good friend. She treats Rahul with respect and kindness no matter what his choices are in life.
  3. When you have sympathy for more than just the main character, you’re in good hands with the writing put forth here.
  4. We’ve all been there—doing something because it might look cool. For Rahul it’s a tryout for football that goes completely wrong. A great theme throughout where everyone is good at something and it just takes time to find out what that is.
  5. The issues brought up in the story are ones middle grade readers, especially those ten and above deserve to be reading about. Racism, fear of being gay, discrimination, and social prejudice are all portrayed in an honest and understandable way.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from Goodreads)

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 for 2013.
He married his partner of 10 years, Ryan Corvaia, in 2014, nine months after they were engaged at the Taj Mahal.

He is an actor, known for 30 Rock (2006), Weeds (2005) and 27 Dresses (2008).


Author’s Website


Leave a comment below. I’ll be responding to all of them this week!


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to THE BEST AT IT

  1. Thanks for the kind words! I needed them today.

  2. You’ve convinced me – this sounds like just my kind of MG Fiction book, so I put a library hold on it. Thanks for sharing it today.

  3. Danielle Hammelef says:

    This book has been on my TBR for too long. Thanks for the review and reminding me to pick this book up. Going to my library’s website now.

  4. I already love the friendship between Chelsea and Rahul, and Rahul’s family sounds like a group of nurturing people. Thanks for sharing this interesting title with us for MMGM, Greg.

  5. Wow! This sounds like an important book for young people struggling with identity. I love how supportive Rahul’s family is. Need to check this one out! (I know about the piles and not remembering how a book came to me.)

  6. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This book sounds fantastic! It’s great to see a book dealing with so many important issues (race, being LGBTQIA+, OCD, etc.). Thanks for the review!

  7. Joanne Fritz says:

    Greg, you’re so good at these reviews. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I love that the reader sympathizes with more than just the main character. That’s hard to pull off!

  8. Natalie Aguirre says:

    Sounds like a book with a lot to love. The fact that he’s from India appeals to me too.

    • Plus his reaction to trying to hide traditions form his native country was spot on. Exactly what you’d expect from a middle schooler. Thanks for stopping by, Natalie!

  9. Thanks, Greg, for telling me about this book. It sounds terrific. I’ll try to get a copy.

  10. I think you would enjoy this story. A lot of contemporary issues in an appealing small town setting.

  11. Pingback: The 2020 GOLDEN CUP AWARDS | Always in the Middle…

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