Champion table tennis player Syed begins this encouragement book by chronicling his own story of how he grew up believing he was average until he began to master the sport.
The goal of this book is to help kids realize that they needn’t necessarily be born with a certain gift or talent—that maybe success is a combination of hard work, the right mentors, and a strong support system. In the chapter “What’s Holding Me Back?” Syed offers a variety of ways a young person can begin to reflect on who they really are and define what their true passion may be. The following chapters stress the importance of practice, coping with pressure, and honoring mistakes as human rather than failure. Throughout the book, Syed highlights those he terms “Famous Failures,” including Steve Jobs, Jay-Z, and Jennifer Lawrence, while also providing a spotlight for those who mastered their talent by perseverance, such as Serena Williams, the Brontë sisters, and David Beckham. Though this self-help book has good intentions, however, it is a little heavy-handed on the perpetuation of an achievement-oriented life. Perhaps it is also good to acknowledge that not everybody need aspire to someone else’s definition of greatness.
Maybe it’s “awesome” to be average.(Nonfiction. 9-13)