Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy - ESSENTIAL

The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy, 336 pages. Balzer and Bray (Harper), 2019. $17

Language: PG (9 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G



Rahul, 12yo, spends his days as normally as he can - hanging out with his best friend Chelsea, avoiding Brent, the bully who enjoys tormenting him, being over-loved in a good way by his mom and all his Indian aunties, and dancing to old Bollywood movies with his Baha’i (grandfather). While he would rather be an athlete so that he could be popular like Justin (or maybe just be close to him), he is much more a mathlete, no matter how much he tries to avoid it.  Everyone around Rahul seems to have Rahul all figured out.  But how can they when Rahul himself has no idea, or isn’t ready to admit it.

I read this as an E-ARC, so I was surprised to find out that it is 300+ pages – it read super fast. Pancholy writes from his own heart and it shows on every page.  Rahul’s earnestness, his engaging family and friends, and the all too common bully shine through.  But, the heart of the novel – Rahul’s befuddlement at what people around him are referring to and his own final acknowledgement of his self are spot on. When Rahul admits to himself, his friends, his family, and even to his bully that he is gay, it is a sweet and tender moment that no one should object to.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

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