In April 2006, The Harvard Crimson reports that passages in sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan's chick-lit novel, "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life," are strikingly similar to those in two Megan McCafferty books.
The book is found to have borrowed more than 40 passages from McCafferty, Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot and Salman Rushdie. Publisher Little, Brown pulls "Opal Mehta" from bookshelves and abandons plans for the second book in Viswanathan's contract, reportedly worth $500,000. DreamWorks SKG, which had bought movie rights, drops the project.
Viswanathan is a first-year law student at Georgetown University, where Stephen Glass earned a J.D. after being fired from The New Republic for fabricating a series of articles. (She declined NEWSWEEK'S request for comment.) How'd she manage to get accepted? Applicants can submit supplemental essays to explain themselves to the admissions committee, says Dean of Admissions Andrew Cornblatt. "It's impossible to get amnesia about what we may have heard," he says. "But in all cases we treat them just like any other applicant."