Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Path of Names

The Path of Names

Spring 2013 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Ari Goelman
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545474306
Hardcover Price: $16.99

A classic vacation read, The Path of Names is a middle grade book about coming-of-age at summer sleepaway camp, set inside of a spine-tingling ghost story. It's the kind of book every kid should have piles of when school lets out for the summer.

Dahlia Sherman is an underappreciated 11-year-old who loves magic and math club but isn't so crazy about the Jewish summer camp her parents have prescribed. She's short on friends and socially awkward -- in stark contrast to her popular brother, Tom, a camp counselor.

When Dahlia's parents drop her off, the first things she sees are ghosts—two young girls, in danger, who immediately seek her out. Then Dahlia begins having disturbing dreams about a young rabbi, she suddenly understands Hebrew, and the camp seems to teem with spooky riddles.

There are multiple mysteries running along seemingly parallel paths—a scary bogeyman, a mysterious journal, a creepy caretaker and his forbidden maze in the woods. It's thrilling when they all start to connect.

Goelman does a great job of depicting the nuances of camp—the crushes and bad food, as well as the dynamic between counselors and their only slightly younger charges. He also makes vivid a fascinating world of Jewish mysticism, rife with magic, golems and secret codes.

Path of Names is an original and absorbing mystery where reveals come at a steady clip; it's an engaging story clear through.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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