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June 13, 2023

My Rating - 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher - Harper Collins
Genre - Fiction
Publishing year - 2019
Language - English
ISBN - 978-93-5422-011-1
Pages - 320
The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy

Book Review - 

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy is a delightful and heartwarming coming-of-age novel that tackles themes of self-acceptance, identity, and finding one's place in the world. Pancholy's debut work is a valuable addition to the young adult genre with its relatable protagonist, authentic storytelling, and genuine emotional depth.

The story follows twelve-year-old Rahul Kapoor, a young Indian American boy navigating the complexities of middle school. Rahul's character is richly developed, and readers will easily connect with his vulnerabilities, fears, and triumphs as he grapples with his insecurities and the desire to fit in; while simultaneously trying to embrace his unique qualities.

The author skillfully captures the middle school experiences, exploring the challenges of bullying, academic pressure, and cultural identity in an engaging and thought-provoking way. The author's personal experiences as a first-generation Indian American in Indiana bring authenticity and depth to the narrative, making it all the more compelling.

One of the most admirable aspects of this book is its unflinching portrayal of the protagonist's journey to embrace his sexual identity. Rahul Kapoor's exploration of his own feelings and his fears of rejection and judgment are sensitively handled, shedding light on the struggles faced by LGBTQ+ youth. The author addresses this topic gracefully, creating a safe space for readers to understand and empathize with Rahul's journey.

The supporting characters in the book are well-crafted. From Rahul's quirky and supportive best friend, Chelsea, to his loving and understanding family, each character contributes to the story's authenticity and emotional resonance. The author weaves the threads of their relationships together, highlighting the importance of friendship, family, and acceptance in one's personal growth.

Furthermore, the novel's pacing is well-balanced, keeping the readers engaged and invested in Rahul's story. The blend of humor, empathy, and vibrant energy makes the book a page-turner, as readers are eager to follow Rahul's journey toward self-acceptance and finding his own version of success.

If there is room for improvement, it would be that certain aspects of the plot feel slightly predictable. Also, the story primarily revolves around Rahul, leaving little room for significant character development for other people. 

The narrative would benefit from emphasizing Rahul's interactions with his therapist more. By delving deeper into their discussions, the author could empower Rahul, reassuring him that it is normal to feel uncertain and providing him with valuable guidance to further help the narrative.

Overall, it is a touching and meaningful novel that skillfully explores the universal themes of confidence, friendship, and pursuing one's dreams. Maulik Pancholy's writing is both accessible and heartfelt, making this book a must-read for young adults and anyone who has ever felt the struggle of not quite fitting in. I recommend this because it serves as a reminder that our unique qualities, when embraced, can become the very things that make us exceptional. 

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