Coconut generation experiences tremendous amount of pressure from their parents to excel in academics, which is the story line for a new novel – How Opel Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life by Kaavya Vishwananthan and published by Little Brown (April 2006).
Before Opal Mehta started kindergarten in New Jersey, her immigrant doctor parents came up with a strategy for securing her future. The plan was called HOWGIH or How Opal Will Get Into Harvard. An 18-year-long battle-plan, HOWGIH included cello lessons, language classes, mosaic and welding courses-everything they imagined constituted a perfect Harvard application. At the end of her high school years, fluent in French, Spanish, German and Chinese, having performed at Carnegie Hall, with a 4.0 GPA, a near-perfect SAT score, all
Opal had to do was sail through her Harvard interview-and get in. But when after going through her impressive file, the Dean of Admissions asked her the one question she wasn’t prepared for-“So tell me, what do you do for fun?” Opal was stumped. Apparently Harvard wasn’t looking for ‘academic automatons’.
The author is a 19-year-old Harvard student herself and signed a staggering $500,000 book deal advance. It’s exceedingly well written and, with its blend of mainstream young American pop/consumer culture with a desi touch, it’s also very saleable (DreamWorks has already bought the movie rights.) This has all the ingradients to become the next ‘Bend it Like Beckham’.
To add to the hype, she has been now accused of plagiarism by the university newspaper Harvard Crimson and the publisher had pulled the book off fthe stores.