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The Path of Names

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  304 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
Mysteries, mazes, and magic combine in this smart, funny summer-camp fantasy -- like THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY for kids!

Dahlia Sherman loves magic, and Math Club, and Guitar Hero. She isn't so fond of nature walks, and Hebrew campfire songs, and mean girls her own age.

All of which makes a week at Jewish summer camp pretty much the worst idea ever.

But wi
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
There's this old song called "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" about a young boy whose parents force him to go to camp. It's a funny, silly song, written like a letter to his parents. At first, he hates camp and is begging them to come and get him, but, by the end, he loves it. On the simplest level, this is the plot of Ari Goelman's The Path of Names.

Dahlia differs from the usual middle grade heroine. She's grumpy and antisocial, preferring math and practicing magic tricks to spending time with peop
Dec 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, j, not-graphic, mystery, ya
A thirteen-year-old girl, summer camp, ghosts, a mysterious caretaker, her older brother, magic tricks, math, mazes, and Jewish mysticism.

An interesting mix of elements that worked well enough together to make an interesting, engaging story, but not quite well enough to feel like they gelled into something I could get truly swept away by--I could feel the author trying just a little too hard. By the end of the book I wanted to know more about the workings of Kabbalah as the source of this book's
jv poore
Bribery. Her parents could call it whatever they wanted, but it was plain and simple bribery. If Dahlia wanted to attend the coveted Magic Camp, she must first endure three weeks at Camp Arava. Attending a Jewish camp, without being able speaking Hebrew, would be tough enough; but when it just so happens that her brother is Super-Star Counselor, Dahlia knows she is in for a very long three weeks.

Upon arrival, Dahlia notices two girls. As she observes the pair with a vague sense of curiosity, the
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
With an intricate story that combines folklore, horror, magic-- and everyday adolescent relationship issues-- "The Path of Names" takes the reader on an exciting adventure. Thirteen-year-old Dalhia Sherman would rather spend her summer days doing magic tricks or math than going to Camp Arava. What starts out as typical adolescent anxiety about going into an unfamiliar setting turns into an mystery about missing kids, ghosts, and Ned MacMasters. Anybody who's ever been to overnight camp probably ...more
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: clever, fantasy, jewish
I am giving this 5 stars even before I finish because:
Who writes a book about a smart girl who loves math and magic tricks and gets unwillingly involved in kabbalah and mysterious disappearances at a Jewish summer camp? Points for sheer originality and hitting so many of my personal interests in one swoop! Also, I even wanted to keep reading this book when I was home in bed with chills and sweats and a raging headache and food poisoning. The only regret I have about the story so far is that Goel
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
the path of names lured me into the entrance and didn't let me out again until the last word. with twists and turns and surprises at every corner, The Path of Names whizzed me through the maze and dumped me in reality; dazed and spellbound.
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jewish mysticism and summer camp. A young adult book that is compared to Harry Potter. I wouldn't go that far but it kept me entertained and engaged. Even without any Jewish knowledge I think this book will appeal to the 11 to 14 year old young adult.
Rose Lerner
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was absolutely incredible. I can't recommend it highly enough. The narrator, Dahlia, is a geeky girl who'd rather go to math camp again or stay home practicing magic tricks than go to Jewish summer camp, and I loved her. Plus, who doesn't enjoy Kabbala, golems, and numerology?
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Great YA novel. Loved the plot twists.
shrug city
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fun middle grade novel with a cool, unique magic system based on Jewish culture, interesting stuff about cryptology, magic and history that I'd have really loved as a kid, and a great heroine. Dahlia is a realistically sulky thirteen-year-old. Ari Goelman is great at putting us into the curiosity and confusion and embarrassment of being thirteen, and though I never went to summer camp, Dahlia's cast of supporting characters, including mean-girl Courtney (who has one of the more realistic portr ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jewish, fantasy, mg
A very interesting combination of elements. Some of my favorite bits are actually not magical, about the American Jewish camping experience which has so shaped my own family (my parents began dating as counselors at Camp Mossad in 1950). The author does a lovely job of capturing the gentle rhythm of the Jewish week at camp and the growing intensity of the friendships made in the close atmosphere of camp. This world isn't captured in a lot of children's books for some reason, maybe because most J ...more
So, I picked this up partly because I liked the idea of a story taking place at summer camp with characters who are about the same age that I was the one year I went to camp, and partly because it's a Jewish summer camp, and I wanted to know what that might be like (mine was called Camp Olympia and was based around Greek mythology and the Peloponnesian War, so...kinda different). I enjoyed the characters, and found the mystery pretty interesting--ghosts, a mysterious camp caretaker, an overgrown ...more
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It has an amazing mix of themes that I have not seen anywhere else. Plus, it was based in a Habonim-like summer camp, a sister to my own camp, which was so accurately portrayed, it brought me right back there!

Dahlia's parents are bribing her to spend first session at her older brother's camp in exchange for a week at the magic camp that she really wants to go to. She has absolutely no desire to spend three weeks at a Jewish summer camp in the woods. Once she gets there, though
Not one for the faint-hearted, this title mixes modern day adolescent angst about fitting in, summer camp, and sibling rivalry with a mystery rooted in religion and folklore. The story centers on fourteen-year-old Dahlia Sherman, a teen more interested in numbers, magic tricks, and games than in the typical pursuits at Camp Arava. But her parents want her to learn to be more social, which ends with their cutting a deal with her to attend this camp in order to attend magic camp later in the summe ...more
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, childrens
I really enjoyed it! Very good story, though spookier than I would choose under normal circumstances. The fifth star is probably because I went to camp with the author for a couple of years, and really enjoyed the reminders of camp life. The writing and stories are good, though the jumping back and forth between the two time periods gets a bit choppy at times (which often is an issue with multi-perpective/ multi-era writing). But the stories from both times are interwoven well, he did a great jo ...more
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how to categorize this story because of the unusual combination of elements here: Dahlia, a girl who loves math and magic, has been bribed to spend a session at the Jewish camp where her brother will be a counselor. Once there, she ends up in a class about Kabbalah, which initially intrigues her because of its relationship to numerology, but then loses her interest. Meanwhile, 2 little girls are visible only to Dahlia, and she starts having dreams of an Othodox Jewish man named Davi ...more
Feb 11, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a smart, sophisticated mystery with religious mysticism and moral quandaries aplenty. A young girl with a passion for math and magic attends Jewish summer camp to discover ghosts, visiting dream spirits and something sinister lurking. It was really dark, even with splashes of humor added in. I did enjoy this story, though I feel it would have been more successful as a true teen story. The cover alone makes it appear juvenile, when the subject matter, for me, was much more mature. Element ...more
Benji K-B
I love this book. In some way, I am related to Dahlia, the main character. Dahlia, always expects something bad to happen at the sleep away camp that she is going to. Her older brother Tom is a counselor at the camp. Tom is always standing for her. Barry the caretaker never shows his face in front of campers. And he is always keeping kids away from the maze that is causing some trouble at the camp. But be warned, once you start reading this book, it is too good to stop reading.
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended for gr. 6-9 (Book Review Center). Special interests: Magic tricks, Judaism, Kabbalah.

The last thing Darla wants is to go to a Jewish summer camp, but it is the only way her parents will agree to also send her to magic and math summer camp. Once there, however, strange things begin to happen, possibly related to some old tales about the camp property.
Sharon Lawler
Plot, characters, and setting all come together for a perfect mystery! Plot had a touch of historical background, but the Jewish mysticism and the Golem added depth to the plot. The story definitely takes place on more than one level! Dialogue between the characters was so authentic I could hear them speaking in my head. I could reread this one.
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent middle-school novel. It has just enough mysticism and spookiness to excite a middle-schooler without leading to full-on nightmares. The plot blends Jewish-mysticism, sibling relationships, and navigating the politics of the average tween.
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
A really interesting combination of summer camp story, paranormal activity and jewish mystic theories. A fune quick read that drew me in.
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed both the mystery and the Jewish culture info embedded in the book. Very well written. Wish there had been more about David and less about Tom, though. I really liked David!
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was so surprised by this book. It is definitely unique and very intriguing.

It's like a Jewish Da Vinci Code for kids.
Jul 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Before I meant to say currently reading but I'm finished now. It was a bit scary. REALLY SCARY.
Cheriee Weichel
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book won't be available for few months, but it will be worth the wait!
Jul 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great debut author! Wonderful plot with lots of twists. Middle school kids will ask for this one.
This is classified as juvenile fiction and also as a mystery. It is full of Hebrew/Jewish culture and the main part of the story happens at a Jewish summer camp. There are flashbacks to an orthodox Jewish man who uncovers a secret word of power from the Torah and goes on the run to protect himself and his knowledge from a cult called the Illuminated Ones. Seventy-two years later, our Dahlia is possessed by the spirit of this man who is trying to finish up his task of saving children and destroyi ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
I hate to give bad reviews, but honestly I was not at all interested in this book. It was confusing, and had some weird Jewish stuff that made me as a Christian slightly uncomfortable although it did broaden my horizons in the Jewish faith :D. However, the book was well written and very original. I recommend it, though it just didn't suit my taste.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, library, mystery, wndb
An entertaining and layered summer camp mystery full of ghosts, magic tricks, hedge mazes, secret societies, and Jewish mysticism. Creative and genuine with excellent dialogue, it's a highly enjoyable story all around. 4.5 stars.
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Ari Goelman is the award winning author of The Innocence Treatment and The Path of Names. In addition to writing fiction, he teaches at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and enjoys biking in the rain, especially when it stops raining. He lives in Vancouver with his family. If you want to learn more about Ari and his writing, check out
More about Ari B. Goelman

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“Funny thing, how much weaker boys are than girls.” 2 likes
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