[FoRK] Examples of Similar Passages Between Viswanathan's Book and McCafferty's Two Novels

Joe Barrera < joe at barrera.org > on > Fri Apr 28 22:33:52 PDT 2006

I'd seen lots of articles, but none with examples of the
alleged plagiarism until I found this one:


Oh heck, I might as well FoRK the contents...

Published On 4/23/2006 11:18:14 PM
Crimson Staff Writer

The following examples are among the clearest parallels between "How 
Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" by Kaavya Viswanathan 
'08 and two novels by Megan McCafferty, "Sloppy Firsts" and "Second 
Helpings." Italics appeared in the originals.



 From page 6 of McCafferty’s first novel: “Sabrina was the /brainy/ 
Angel. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or the other: 
Pretty or smart. Guess which one I got. You’ll see where it’s gotten me.”

 From page 39 of Viswanathan’s novel: “Moneypenny was the /brainy/ 
female character. Yet another example of how every girl had to be one or 
the other: smart or pretty. I had long resigned myself to category one, 
and as long as it got me to Harvard, I was happy. Except, it hadn’t 
gotten me to Harvard. Clearly, it was time to switch to category two.”


 From page 7 of McCafferty’s first novel: “Bridget is my age and lives 
across the street. For the first twelve years of my life, these 
qualifications were all I needed in a best friend. But that was before 
Bridget’s braces came off and her boyfriend Burke got on, before Hope 
and I met in our seventh-grade honors classes.

 From page 14 of Viswanathan’s novel: “Priscilla was my age and lived 
two blocks away. For the first fifteen years of my life, those were the 
only qualifications I needed in a best friend. We had first bonded over 
our mutual fascination with the abacus in a playgroup for gifted kids. 
But that was before freshman year, when Priscilla’s glasses came off, 
and the first in a long string of boyfriends got on.”


 From page 23 of McCafferty’s first novel: “He’s got dusty reddish 
dreads that a girl could never run her hands through. His eyes are 
always half-shut. His lips are usually curled in a semi-smile, like he’s 
in on a big joke that’s being played on you but you don’t know it yet.”

 From page 48 of Viswanathan’s novel: “He had too-long shaggy brown hair 
that fell into his eyes, which were always half shut. His mouth was 
always curled into a half smile, like he knew about some big joke that 
was about to be played on you.”


 From page 217 of McCafferty’s first novel: “But then he tapped me on 
the shoulder, and said something so random that I was afraid he was back 
on the junk.”

 From page 142 of Viswanathan’s novel: “...he tapped me on the shoulder 
and said something so random I worried that he needed more expert 
counseling than I could provide.”


 From page 237 of McCafferty’s first novel: “Finally, four major 
department stores and 170 specialty shops later, we were done.”

 From page 51 of Viswanathan’s novel: “Five department stores, and 170 
specialty shops later, I was sick of listening to her hum along to 
Alicia Keys....”


 From page 213 of McCafferty’s first novel: “Marcus then leaned across 
me to open the passenger-side door. He was invading my personal space, 
as I had learned in Psych class, and I instinctively sank back into the 
seat. That just made him move in closer. I was practically one with the 
leather at this point, and unless I hopped into the backseat, there was 
nowhere else for me to go.”

 From page 175 of Viswanathan’s novel: “Sean stood up and stepped toward 
me, ostensibly to show me the book. He was definitely invading my 
personal space, as I had learned in a Human Evolution class last summer, 
and I instinctively backed up till my legs hit the chair I had been 
sitting in. That just made him move in closer, until the grommets in the 
leather embossed the backs of my knees, and he finally tilted the book 
toward me.”


 From page 209 of McCafferty’s first novel:
“‘Uhhhh...I live less than half a mile from here. Twelve Forest Drive.’
“‘So I don’t need a ride...’
“Another pause.
“‘But do you /want/ one?’ he asked.
“God, did I want one.
“He knew it, too. He leaned over the front seat and popped open the 
passenger-side door. ‘Come on, I want to talk to you,’ he said.”

 From page 172 of Viswanathan’s novel:
“‘Sit down.’
“‘Uh, actually...I was just dropping off some books. I’m supposed to be 
home by nine. And it’s already eight-forty.’
“‘So I can’t really stay...’
“Another pause.
“‘But you want to?’ he asked.
“Did I? Yes...
“He knew it, too. He patted the chair again. ‘Come on, I want to talk to 
you,’ he said.”


 From page 223 of McCafferty’s first novel: “Marcus finds me completely 
nonsexual. No tension to complicate our whatever relationship. I should 
be relieved.”

 From pages 175 and 176 of Viswanathan’s novel: “Sean only wanted me as 
a friend. A nonsexual female friend. That was a good thing. There would 
be no tension to complicate our relationship and my soon-to-be 
relationship with Jeff Akel. I was relieved.”


 From page 46 of McCafferty’s first novel: “He smelled sweet and woodsy, 
like cedar shavings.”

 From page 147 of Viswanathan’s novel: “...I had even begun to recognize 
his cologne (sweet and woodsy and spicy, like the sandalwood key chains 
sold as souvenirs in India.)”



 From page 67 of McCafferty’s second novel: “...but in a truly 
sadomasochistic dieting gesture, they chose to buy their Diet Cokes at 

 From page 46 of Viswanathan’s novel: “In a truly masochistic gesture, 
they had decided to buy Diet Cokes from Mrs. Fields...”


 From page 68 of McCafferty’s second novel: “‘Omigod!’ shrieked Sara, 
taking a pink tube top emblazoned with a glittery Playboy bunny out of 
her shopping bag.”

 From page 51 of Viswanathan’s novel: “...I was sick of listening to her 
hum along to Alicia Keys, and worn out from resisting her efforts to buy 
me a pink tube top emblazoned with a glittery Playboy bunny.”


 From page 69 of McCafferty’s second novel: “Throughout this 
conversation, Manda acted like she couldn’t have been more bored. She 
lazily skimmed her new paperback copy of /Reviving Ophelia/—she must 
have read the old one down to shreds. She just stood there, popping 
another piece of Doublemint, or reapplying her lip gloss, or slapping 
her ever-present pack of Virginia Slims against her palm. (Insert oral 
fixation jokes, here, here and /here/.) Her hair—usually dishwater brown 
and wavy—had been straightened and bleached the color of sweet corn 
since the last time I saw her...Just when I thought she had maxed out on 
hooter hugeness, it seemed that whatever poundage Sara had lost over the 
summer had turned up in Manda’s bra.”

 From page 48 of Viswanathan’s novel: “The other HBz acted like they 
couldn’t be more bored. They sat down at a table, lazily skimmed heavy 
copies of Italian /Vogue/, popped pieces of Orbit, and reapplied layers 
of lip gloss. Jennifer, who used to be a bit on the heavy side, had 
dramatically slimmed down, no doubt through some combination of 
starvation and cosmetic surgery. Her lost pounds hadn’t completely 
disappeared, though; whatever extra pounds she’d shed from her hips had 
ended up in her bra. Jennifer’s hair, which I remembered as dishwater 
brown and riotously curl, had been bleached Clairol 252: Never Seen in 
Nature Blonde. It was also so straight it looked washed, pressed and 


 From page 88 of McCafferty’s second novel: “By the way, Marcus wore a 
T-shirt that said THURSDAY yesterday, and FRIDAY today.”

 From page 170 of Viswanathan’s novel: “He was wearing an old, faded 
gray sweatshirt that said ‘Tuesday’ on it. Except that today was Thursday.”

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