Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 355
Life is full of good and bad.
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
As the title indicates, Freddie’s family has been cursed with bad luck for generations. Most of the bad luck is simply annoying, as he runs out of glue while completing a last-minute project, breaks a printer, arrives late to class, and trips and falls flat on his face. Freddie thinks his luck may change when he finds an amulet hidden away in the garage, but the opposite is true. He activates a family curse and now has thirteen days before he dies unless he can figure out a way to stop the countdown. The story will keep readers guessing since bad luck can pop up at any time.
The amulet contains the spirit of Freddie’s great-granduncle, Ramon, and he behaves like many friendly ghosts found in other stories. He died during WW II in the Philippines and hasn’t interacted with the living for many years. He understands enough of the modern world to misinterpret situations and add humor to the book. He spends much of his time teasing Freddie before switching around to instill him with hope. Freddie’s unfortunate accidents beg the question of is this bad luck, or is it the ups and downs of everybody’s lives?
The plot becomes a mystery, as Freddie and his cousin Sharkey try to figure out a way to end the curse. Ramon is able to share some Filipino history and culture, and he finally reveals a secret that will be very helpful in Freddie’s search. Sharkey is a star on a competitive dance team, and it seems to be an unimportant side story. However, a regional tournament is coming up, and it becomes a catalyst for resolving the family jinx. It’s an unexpected twist to a middle-grade ghost mystery.
What didn’t work as well:
The imminence of Freddie’s death creates tension as the thirteen days go by, but not knowing the cause of his death leaves the foreshadowing vague. The evil spirits aren’t characters in the story, so it’s more difficult to see them as threats. Of course, it’s impossible to guess future bad luck, but having a tangible danger to consider might increase the suspense.
The Final Verdict:
Life is full of good and bad. The blend of Filipino culture, ghosts, and humor make this a very entertaining book. The countdown of the curse makes the story suspenseful while the climax brings the events to a happy ending. I recommend you give this book a shot.
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