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Welcome to our newest member, mitrevukko
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  #1  
Old 04-14-2006, 06:44 PM
SoProud2BeAnAlphaXi SoProud2BeAnAlphaXi is offline
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Thumbs up 19-year-old Harvard Kappa Publishes Book AND Gets a Movie Deal!

I keep hearing about this young woman, and then today she was interviewed on one of our local radio stations. YAY, KAPPA!

I think I need to go get the book.

http://www.boston.com/ae/books/artic...on+Globe+Today's+paper+--+A+to+Z (I can't quite get this link to work here, so cut and past ... this is where she identifies herself as a Kappa)

and just last week: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/06/bo...c0e&ei=5087%0A

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Opal Mehta is the kind of girl who might get a half-million dollars for her first novel, completed during her freshman year at Harvard, followed by a movie deal with DreamWorks. After all, she started cello lessons at 5, studied four foreign languages beginning at 6, had near-perfect SAT scores and was president of three honors societies in high school. To appear well rounded, she took welding.

Except that Opal doesn't exist. She is the protagonist of Kaavya Viswanathan's new chick-lit-meets-admissions-frenzy novel, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life," which is being published this week, at the very height — or depths, depending on your point of view — of the college admissions season, when many high school seniors are receiving decisions. But the book and movie deals happened in real life to Ms. Viswanathan, now a 19-year-old Harvard sophomore, safely ensconced in her room at Kirkland House.

To many teenagers waiting to hear from college, Opal may seem like an only slightly more crazed peer: To get Opal into the school of her choice — Harvard, naturally — her parents have created a detailed battle plan with the acronym HOWGIH ("How Opal Will Get Into Harvard"), complete with spread sheets of her extracurricular activities and family focus groups to keep her on track.

Then comes Opal's campus interview. The admissions officer eyes Opal's splendid record, puts down the file and asks the one question she is not prepared to answer: "Don't you have anything you like to do in your spare time? Just for fun?"

With that, her parents immediately switch gears to HOWGAL, or "How Opal Will Get a Life," and the novel takes off. Opal must have a complete makeover. They draw up a list: she must "Get popular," "Get kissed" and "Get wild." She reads Teen People and watches Beyoncι videos. She starts wearing Jimmy Choo spike heels and Habitual jeans instead of shapeless skirts and turtlenecks. Her father makes flashcards so she can learn slang: "keep it real" and "off the hook." Of course, Opal gets into Harvard, but not before learning what her true values are. Publishers Weekly called the book " 'Legally Blonde' in reverse."

Ms. Viswanathan was born in Chennai (formerly Madras) in India and spent her early childhood in Britain. She and her parents, Mary Sundaram, a physician who gave up practicing to raise her daughter, and Viswanathan Rajaraman, a brain surgeon, moved to the United States when Ms. Viswanathan was in middle school. (As is sometimes customary among South Indians, Ms. Viswanathan took her father's first name as her last name.)

She was soon taking part in the full panoply of enrichment programs and extracurricular activities that have become the birthright of the Ivy bound — summers at the Center for Talented Youth, a Johns Hopkins University program for gifted children; editor in chief of her school newspaper; advanced placement courses at her magnet high school in Hackensack, N.J. That, she said, is where she got the material for her book: "I was surrounded by the stereotype of high-pressure Asian and Indian families trying to get their children into Ivy League schools."

She began writing the book the summer before college. "I'd just been through the applications process," she said. "It was very tense, very stressful, marked by a lot of competition and secrecy.

"People would ask, 'Who's writing your recommendation for Yale?' And they wouldn't tell you because it gives you a competitive advantage if people don't know."

Sitting in a restaurant in Harvard Square, Ms. Viswanathan, small, with almond-shaped eyes and glistening shoulder-length black hair, wanted to make it clear that she was not Opal, and that despite the novel's details about upper-class suburban Indian immigrant life — the near-identical center hall colonials, the elaborate parties to celebrate the Hindu festival of Divali, the shifts in conversation between Hindi and English — the Harvard-mad parents in the book are not her parents.

"They've always been very good about not putting pressure on me," she said of her mother and father. "I mean, I adore them."

Her parents were not immune to the competitive pressure, however. Because they had never applied to an American educational institution, they hired Katherine Cohen, founder of IvyWise, a private counseling service, and author of "Rock Hard Apps: How to Write the Killer College Application." At the time IvyWise charged $10,000 to $20,000 for two years of college preparation services, spread over a student's junior and senior years.

But they did have limits. "I don't think she did our platinum package, which is now over $30,000," Ms. Cohen said of Ms. Viswanathan.

Ms. Cohen helped open doors other than Harvard's. After reading some of Ms. Viswanathan's writing (she had completed a several-hundred-page novel about Irish history while in high school, naturally), Ms. Cohen put her in touch with the William Morris Agency, which represents Ms. Cohen. Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, who is now Ms. Viswanathan's agent, sold the novel that eventually became "Opal" to Little, Brown on the basis of four chapters and an outline as part of a two-book deal.

Ms. Viswanathan, who said she planned to become an investment banker after college, finished writing "Opal" during her freshman year, in Lamont Library at Harvard, while taking a full course load.

Despite Ms. Viswanathan and her parents' protestations that only the smallest details in the book are autobiographical ("I do drive a Range Rover," her father said), her parents and Opal's do share a slightly over-the-top quality when it comes to celebrating their daughters. One of the key moments in the book has Opal giving a party at her house after her parents outfit the place with Ping-Pong, foosball and pool tables, a fully stocked bar and a sound system to "crank up the scene."

Ms. Viswanathan's own parents have been intent on giving her a book party when she gets home from college this summer. "They wanted to have a red carpet strewn with rose petals," she said, her voice rising. "And I've just woken up and I'm still in my pajamas and my mom will call, and she'll say like, 'Kaavya, would you prefer pink or white rose petals?'
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  #2  
Old 04-24-2006, 02:19 PM
alum alum is offline
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Plagiarism

Bad news

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/...d.php?t=179932

Apparently this book is a blatant example of plagiarism.
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