Freddie Ruiz is cursed.

While other people may have bad days, Freddie and his family have had bad generations: from bird poop splatting on him during picture day to the many tumbles and trips that earned him the nickname Faceplant Freddie. He’s learned to lay low and keep himself out of trouble—which means no fun, no friends, and definitely no risks.

But when he discovers a family heirloom, a century-old amulet from the Philippines that’s supposed to bring good fortune, Freddie thinks his luck is finally about to change.

He couldn’t be more wrong. Because the spirit of Freddie’s cranky great-granduncle Ramon is trapped in the heirloom, and the evil spirits responsible for his death have returned with a vengeance. Now, Freddie and his cousin, Sharkey, have thirteen days to break the curse, or Freddie will join Ramon for an untimely afterlife in the amulet.


A fun magical mystery with a unique story line is bound to capture the interest of readers both young and old. Freddie is the perfect character to handle the first person narration in this tale of a curse gone awry.

The fast pace of the story line is evident in each of the 30 chapters. Social issues, Filipino culture and traditions, self acceptance, and a road trip to Las Vegas are packed into the 256 pages. None of them overwhelm the story and are nicely intertwined to make this a winning title. The typical pressures of middle school are there along with the full blown embarrassment Freddie endures as the curse waits to strike at the worst moments.

Freddie vs the Family Curse will have you rooting for Freddie so that he can begin 7th grade as a normal adolescent. It will be time well spent.


  1. A little bit of World War II history was included in the story. The relationship of the Philippines and the U.S. during that time is something often forgotten or never heard about.
  2. Even though death would be the outcome if Freddie fails, it never gets to be a depressing ride given the narration in this rich fantasy tale.
  3. So many memorable scenes! Freddie learning how to breakdance, and the visit to a nursing home with cousin Sharkey were my favorites.
  4. Even though life isn’t easy at times, be the best you can be is a lesson sure to resonate with many.
  5. Countdown stories are always well received by the middle grade audience. The stakes are high here (13 days to get rid of a curse or die) provides even more interest.


Tracy Badua is a Filipino-American author of books full of humor, magic, and young people with sunny hearts in a sometimes stormy world. By day, she is an attorney who works in national housing policy and programs, and by night, she squeezes in writing, family time, pup pets, and bites of her secret stash of candy. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, chatty toddler, and photogenic Maltese.

(I received an ARC from Harper Collins in exchange for my honest review.)


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I’ve been wanting to read this book since I featured Tracy at Literary Rambles. I just requested it at the library based on your review. Thanks!

  2. msyingling says:

    I think this one will be really popular in my library. It’s funny, and there is also a WWII connection. Thanks for the review!

  3. Humour, magic and sunny hearts in an exciting fantasy tale sounds a winning combination! SOunds a gret premise for a story, I must watch out for it! Thanks for the review

  4. Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    I hadn’t seen this book before, but the fast-paced plot, the unique scenes, and the compelling themes makes it sound like an excellent one! Thanks so much for the wonderful review, Greg!

  5. Agree that countdown stories make for a fast-paced read!

  6. Wow, this sounds like a great story with fantasy and a bit of history. Sounds perfectly targeted for middle grade students. Great summer read. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Countdown stories are a great way to keep youngsters engaged. This sounds like it has a lot going for it with some history and cultural enrichment. Thanks for the review.

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