FROM NERD-HERD TO MEAN GIRLS
The title takes longer to read than the story, so I'll just be calling it HOWGAL, the policy that Opal's parents adopt for her. It was a brisk, entertaining read, a nice chick-litty way to pass the time.
HOWGAL is the story of a nerdy Indian teenager, Opal Mehta, whose life revolves around getting into Harvard. When Opal has no answer to the interviewer's seemingly innocuous question " What do you like to do for fun?", Opal's parents decide that HOWGIH (How Opal Will Get Into Harvard) will give way for HOWGAL (How Opal Will Get A Life). So that includes a complete makeover so that she can be part of the Haute Bitchez, party like a rockstar and get her first kiss from her longtime crush.
You might remember that Kaavya Viswanathan was embroiled in a huge plagiarism row regarding this book. With the greatest respect to the original author, I thought that the parts Ms. Viswanathan copied were actually an improvement on the original passages. I liked her style of writing and her heroine too, who doesn't whine all the time. This book makes the point "Nerd is Cool" in a very unassuming way, and also asks a very pertinent question- Would you risk losing everything to win your dream back? But the book has several flaws, major among them being the parents. Trust me on this, Indian parents are not the way they are depicted in the book. They may be loud and controlling, but they definitely do not gatecrash their daughter's party and start clicking pictures. But it is a loss to the writing community that Viswanathan went out the way she did, because I thought she had some potential. In a way, the author's life mirrors her heroine's, as both walked down paths they normally wouldn't have chosen (I'm assuming plagiarism wasn't Viswanathan's motto) to get something they desperately want. Sadly for Viswanathan, her story didn't have Opal's happy ending.
Read another review at: Ramya's Bookshelf