cover image How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life

How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life

Kaavya Viswanathan, . . Little, Brown, $21.95 (314pp) ISBN 978-0-316-05988-6

It's Legally Blond in reverse—a super-serious straight-A student turns popular girl to get into Harvard—courtesy of real-life Harvard sophomore Viswanathan, making her much-touted debut. At her Harvard early admissions interview, Opal Mehta, an NRI (or "Non-Resident Indian") from suburban Woodcliff, N.J., is told that Harvard is looking for "young people who want to live and experience life." Opal, in turn, tells her extremely involved, hilariously drawn parents Amal and Meena, who come up with a plan complete with acronym: HOWGAL—How Opal Will Get a Life. It includes getting a Frederic Fekkai haircut, amassing a designer wardrobe and cracking the Haute Bitchez clique—with the complete O.C. on DVD as prep. While Opal's first steps falter, she is soon trading clothes and lip gloss with the trendy elite. But disaster follows success: not only does Opal end up kissing Sean, the object of another of the Haute Bitchez' affections, but her Treo falls into the wrong hands, à la Harriet the Spy. It's all very chick lit—girl gets problem, gets Prada, gets over it—but it's a lot of fun, and Viswanathan's eye-rolling intelligence shines through on every page. (Apr.)