5th Grade and Up
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.
This story had me at the Philippines. I am half Filipino on my father’s side, but I’m not close to my Filipino heritage. Personally, I see myself more as Anxious American than Pacific Islander American. I really enjoyed reading about Filipino culture, history, and folklore. Most fantasy cultural folklore stories are too overwhelming, so this book was a welcomed surprise.
Poor Freddie is so put down by the curse and scared of embarrassing himself that he has stopped trying to participate in anything. I understand Freddie’s fear of humiliating himself. At that age, you feel like the world is out to get you, and everyone is looking at you, waiting for you to do something stupid. In real life, most people are too wrapped up in their own lives to notice what anyone else is doing.
I like stories with magical jewelry. I don’t know why. I just like the concept of having something around your neck that has magical properties.
Throughout the story, I kept waiting for Freddie’s Apong Rosing to fry up a fish head. My grandma and my dad love eating fried fish heads. I don’t like it when my food looks at me. I do love salmon and mangos.
A few foods that are mentioned: Fish sauce, fried fish, pancit, banana ketchup, and Spam
I was not a fan of Freddie’s parents. They don’t believe in the family curse and refuse to acknowledge it. They are the kind of people who ignore a problem and hope it disappears on its own. So, of course, they don’t believe Freddie when he tries to tell them about the amulet. Luckily, he has two family members on his side, his cousin Sharkey and his grandma, Apong Rosing.
Overall, this is a captivating and humorous story, with a lesson on not letting fear keep you from living your life.