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Sunday, July 20, 2008

How Opal Mehta Got Kissed Got Wild and Got A Life

Kaavya Viswanathan, a student at Harvard, writes about Opal Mehta, a teenager whose life ambition it is to go to Harvard.
Right after she was born, her Indian immigrant parents, Amal and Meena, began implementing the HOWGIH (How Opal Will Get into Harvard) plan.
Opal's now 16 and as far as she's concerned, her worst-case life scenario would be to settle for Yale. But Opal, the straight-A student, is so busy with the school recycling program and the Science Bowl team that she has just one friend, her cat, Mr. Muffty. When she goes to Harvard for her early admission interview, she gets the shock of her life. The dean of admissions tells her she needs to become well-rounded, make friends and "experience being young."
If Opal Mehta needs to get a life, she can certainly take lessons from her creator, debut author/smart girl Kaavya Viswanathan. A sophomore at Harvard, Viswanathan snagged a two-book, $500,000 contract from Little, Brown at the tender age of 17. Opal Mehta, which has a first printing of 100,000 copies, has been optioned by DreamWorks.
It's clear that Viswanathan has a life, but how does Opal get one? By implementing the HOWGAL (How Opal Will Get a Life) plan. Using the same ingenuity that went into HOWGIH, her dad creates Excel documents that include Conversation Starters with Popular Girls and Essential Party Songs.

How Opal Mehta Got...
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