Eeeeouch! Last April I mentioned the story of a very lucky girl who got into Harvard just about the time she got a very lucrative two book deal. At the time, I was a bit scared for her -- only 17, and already -- wow. I spoke at my undergrad alma mater about this 17-year-old girl who had gotten a $500K book deal based on a couple of chapters she'd written and told them that no, they'd have to work a bit harder, this kind of stuff never happens. It seems I may have been more right than I knew...
Like many other writers, I was a bit green with envy over this young woman's succeess -- but now I'm a bit nervous for Kaavya Viswanathan, now 19. Recent allegations claim that entire phrases from her book How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, are taken from Megan F. McCafferty 2001 novel "Sloppy Firsts" and the 2003 sequel "Second Helpings." There is, in fact, a full 14 word paragraph that is all McCafferty with only the names changed.
My stomach just knots as I read the comments from the Harvard newspaper, where Viswanathan is a student. Much has been made of this obviously bright girl, but it does seem that her fairy-tale beginning was just too good to be true, and that sharp readers are already joining the fray to make sure and pick out every single incidence where she could have taken her pieces of work from somewhere else.
Viswanathan is the youngest author signed by Little, Brown in decades, and the movie rights for the novel have already been sold to DreamWorks.