Saturday, May 20, 2006

How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life / Unrated with Rant

Viswanathan, Kaavya. How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. 2006.

Opal's dream has been to go to Harvard. Everything she has done has been to get into Harvard, which includes joining a million clubs, doing community service, and taking all AP classes. She goes on her Harvard early decision interview and she doesn't know what to say when the interviewer asks her what she likes to do for fun. He tells her basically to get a life and reapply for regular admissions.

Like she does with everything else, she decides to get a life, if that's what it takes to get into Harvard. Her parents also get involved, buying her every fashion magazine available, renting all of the latest videos, TiVoing hit TV shows, getting her a new haircut, make-up, etc. Her parents go so far as to go away and let her have a kegger in her house. As we already know from the beginning, she is going to get popular, get kissed, and get wild, but she isn't going to like it, and eventually it will go awry. And it does.

Can I recommend this book? No. Why? After it was plagiarized, it was discovered by some astute readers that it was, in fact, plagiarized. There are entire sections taken directly from Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. Some sections are copied word-for-word and in some places the words are changed a little. Her works also mirror the works of other authors such as Meg Cabot although no side-by-side comparisons have been made with any other authors. The book was subsequently pulled from all bookstores. The publisher had said that they were going to revise the book and re-release it, but they have since changed their mind on that.

The author wasn't helping her case when she first claimed she had never even read the work of McCafferty. Then in another interview she claimed the book moved her so much that she must have internalized certain passages and that was why she ended up using them in her book. Huh? I read a lot, but I have never memorized entire sentences or sections of a book! And, if I did, I would think I would have remembered that I had.

This girl, a sophomore at Harvard, is now a bit of a disgrace. If her goal was to be an author, she blew it. She will never be able to publish anything anywhere again. No place would take the risk of plagiarism lawsuits. Right now she is lucky that Megan McCafferty has said she doesn't plan to sue. The publisher will probably take away her advance. I hope she didn't spend it!

If you want to read this book, you will have to get it used on Amazon since bookstores have pulled it. Some libraries still have it, although I am sure they will pull the books from their collections too, once they get returned. I only read it to see the comparison between the books. While I enjoyed the book, it is tarnished from this scandal. I think HS seniors going through the application process would enjoy the book because it is amusing, but it is hard to get past the plagiarism thing.

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