The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy:

A Book Review


Summary: The best at it takes place in a small town in Indiana. The protagonist is a 7th grader named Rahul. The book deals with Rahul struggling with his identity and trying to be liked and popular. Rahul is anxious, so his grandfather gives him advice. The advice is to: Find one thing you’re good at and become the BEST at it. Rahul struggles with his topic this year, but Rahul doesn’t know what he is good at. A funny, touching book about identity and bravery.

Pro: It does a good job of positively representing the Indian-American community. It doesn’t use racist undertones, although it does lean into stereotypes just a little bit. The characters aren’t one-note characters and are complex. This book battles discrimination and takes a stance against racism and homophobia. The character of Chelsea is well done, and the character of Bhai is flawless. Most of the depictions of Indian culture are accurate. It does a good job with character development as Rahul goes through his journey, and Rahul is a relatable character. It talks about racism in real-world situations. Not just inter-personal racism between Rahul and his bully, but also institutional racism. An example of this is when(spoilers) Rahul auditions for a commercial and is rejected for his race. This book is well written and I would recommend it to others.

Con: This book does use stereotypes, although lightly. The character of “Nandita Auntie” is obsessed with arranging a marriage proposal for Rahul despite his young age, and is the stereotype of a traditional Indian “auntie”. “Brent” is both the stereotype of Jock and Bully. “Arun” is a stereotype of an annoying sibling. The book has issues with flow and descriptive language.  In my opinion, the character of Rahul is unlikable at times.

Verdict: This book is mostly good with some minor issues. I would give this book a 9.5/10.