TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
Mike Lupica is a sports columnist, television personality, and author of such teen sports novels as the excellent "Travel Team" and "Heat." In his latest book for young adults, "Miracle on 49th Street," Lupica tells the story of 12 year-old Molly Parker. Molly grew up in London as the beloved daughter of single parent Jen, who recently passed away after a battle with cancer. As the book begins, Molly has been sent to Boston to live with Jen's college friend, Barbara, her banker husband, and their daughter, Kimmy.
Molly has a secret that she hasn't shared with anyone but her best friend, smart, awkward, funny Sam Bloom, and the secret is a whopper: nationally famous Boston Celtics point guard Josh Cameron is Molly's father. Of course, Josh has no idea he has a daughter, and, after Molly ambushes him — twice! — in the team's parking lot, he's not so sure he even wants a daughter. Molly and Josh begin a kind of uneasy friendship, where she attends some of his games and practices and has dinners with Josh and his grandmotherly housekeeper Mattie. All along, Molly senses that Josh is just stringing her along until he can figure out a safe method of sending her on her way; Josh never hugs Molly, continues to question whether she's really his daughter, and keeps her hidden from the media. The bulk of the story involves Molly trying to get Josh to pass a fatherhood "test," that is, get him to overcome his pride and selfishness and reach a point where he can love and accept Molly for who she is.
There's some sports action in the book, as both Molly's 7th grade team and Josh's professional team take the court, but not as much as in Lupica's previous novels. Molly is a believable character, brave and hurt and hopeful all at the same time, so readers will definitely cheer her on. The problem with this book lies in the other characters, who never seem to come fully to life, and in the fact that Lupica chooses to flash forward from Molly's initial encounters with the very reluctant Josh to her already having forged friendships with both him and the other Celtics. Lupica does this on several occasions, jumps from a big emotional scene to a calmer time weeks down the road, never letting the reader see all the little steps — the growth, the character development — in between. As such, much of the impact of the story and its final, sentimental resolution is undercut.
This isn't a bad book, not by any means, but it could've been so much more compelling. Fans of Lupica's other books will find lots to like here, but they may walk away a bit disappointed.