The Path of Names

The Path of Names

Book - 2013
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Thirteen-year-old Dahlia's reluctance about attending Camp Arava changes to wonder as strange things begin to happen, and soon she is connecting with David Schank, a student of the kabbala, and the maze he built at the camp in the 1930s.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780545474306
Characteristics: 339 p. : map ; 22 cm.


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IndyPL_SteveB Mar 23, 2019

A fantasy novel for young people, based on Jewish legends and the study of kabbala.

Dahlia Sherman, age 13, loves magic tricks and math and wants to go to summer camps devoted to them. But her parents want her to go the Jewish summer camp that her older brother is a counselor at, and where she will learn more about Jewish traditions. The camp is like a lot of summer camps, with an uneasy combination of children who are snobby, athletic, geeky, or just bored. But it also has an mysterious caretaker, a strange maze that the caretaker will let no one enter, and two ghostly sisters that only Delia can see.

If you have read Harry Potter and many other juvenile fantasies, you understand the pattern. It is well written (with a sag in the pacing in the middle), and the Jewish folklore background adds some interest. However, I think it would have been more interesting with *more* Jewish background. Except for the rare Hebrew word, the children and counselors at the camp could be any children anywhere in the United States. This one isn’t unique enough to make a lasting impression.

JCLChrisK Dec 17, 2013

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 magic, and I wished it hadn't been so obviously glossed over as too dense to be part of an appealing story. But, while I had a very good first impression of Dahlia and felt her interactions with the other characters were believable throughout the story, neither she nor any of the others ever grew on me. Ultimately, it felt like her interest in magic tricks and math were constructs to make the Kabbalah magic seem appealing to her, not because she was a real person with real passions. Nevertheless, I liked her and was just as curious as she was to figure out what was going on.


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