Freddie vs. The Family Curse

I’m not sure I would call myself superstitious in the traditional sense, but there are definitely times when I’d rather not take a risk if it can be avoided. Freddie vs the Family Curse resonated with me especially because I recognized many of the sensations brought about by superstitions mentioned within the story. Freddie Ruiz has had a difficult life because his family has been cursed for generations, and he feels the effects of that curse every day. It means he doesn’t go out for the events he’d like to try for fear of injury or ridicule, and he ultimately remains pretty disconnected from his peers for this reason. But when a chance occurrence awakens the spirit of his great-granduncle, Freddie becomes responsible for lifting the curse once and for all, as long as he can outsmart the spirits in time. This is an uplifting story about what luck really is and how a person can make their own luck even in challenging circumstances. Please see my full review below!


Superstitions have existed for centuries, and even though they vary from culture to culture, their effects remain constant. Twelve-year-old Freddie Ruiz is the unfortunate sufferer of a curse that has plagued his family for generations. When he discovers a long-lost anting-anting in his garage and accidentally activates it one day, Freddie is introduced to the spirit of his great-granduncle Ramon whose spirit has been trapped in a coin since his untimely death decades before. But now that the anting-anting is active, Freddie only has thirteen days to resolve the curse before he joins Ramon in his metal prison—as long as he can outrun the spirits on his tail.

This intriguing middle grade novel introduces readers to many of the thoughts and beliefs of Filipino culture through an approachable young boy who is so afraid of his family’s curse that he has chosen to distance himself from any potential danger. Of course, this means that Freddie does not participate in soccer or dancing or anything that he might enjoy, and it means that friendship is rare. As the story unfolds, Freddie finds that, though his concerns are legitimate, there is a difference between luck and life. The timeline the anting-anting provides keeps the stakes high throughout the novel, leading Freddie to make bold decisions that he might not otherwise do, while helping him realize just how much control he truly has over his life.

Middle grade readers who have ever felt themselves to be surrounded by misfortune will connect with Freddie’s plight and will consider the possibility that they may be able to affect more change in their lives than they initially thought. This realization is inspiring, encouraging hard work and bravery to attempt the things young people truly desire in their lives. Throughout the story, references to Filipino culture and Tagalog language are included, deepening readers’ connection to Freddie and his familial background. Moments of light horror appear occasionally within the narrative, as well, giving readers a spark of additional flavor to enhance Freddie’s adventure. Like a well-crafted dish, this book includes many engaging elements; it is a rich and intriguing novel to include in libraries for middle grade readers.

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