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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2012
One reviewer compared this novel to Homer's Odyssey. This is no Odyssey. To Be Frank Diego is much easier to read and a lot funnier! If you've ever lived in San Diego and had a critical thought or two about its culture or history, then you'll like this book. If you've ever had the misfortune of relying on Southern California's public transit system, then you'll like this book. If you're a product of two or more ethnicities (in this case Mexican and White/European) or have ever been concerned with biracial identity issues, then you will especially relate to Frank Diego. If you've ever had a failed relationship, then I'm guessing you will connect to this story too. Because I fall into all of the aforementioned categories, I loved this book! My only criticisms of Carrillo's debut novel are that, because it is self-published, I felt like a couple parts could be more polished or refined. I found two typos that distracted me at first, but those were the only errors I caught in 190 pages of text (I'm pretty sure I've seen typos in classic novels in their 3rd and 4th editions). Also, the beginning was a little bit slow-- but then again, the reader needs some background to get acquainted with the main character, Frank Diego (and his early flashbacks are pretty funny). I do imagine that Frank's sense of humor and social commentary will be appreciated by some more than others, depending on your style/perspective. I picture the character Frank as a young, southern Californian version of Kurt Vonnegut, if Vonnegut was half-Mexican. I'm a fan of the late, great Vonnegut, so my comparison is very good thing and I hope Carrillo writes more novels in the near future.
Overall, I highly recommend this book. It's a fast read that makes you think, laugh, and think a little bit more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2012
Frank Diego is without a car. It might not seem like such a heinous thing to you, but in San Diego it's pretty important. Getting anywhere in the scattered beachside metropolis of SD without a personal vehicle can be a challenge. Diego discovers this quite quickly, becoming lost in the labyrinthine mess that is the Metropolitan Transit System. As he stumbles his way through a series of personal conflicts, he confronts issues of his own identity, relationships, and struggles.

To Be Frank Diego is a book for the sarcastic San Diegan. As a local, I found myself chucking at the ironic exclamations of "Go Chargers!" and the playful pokes at the "Zonie" tourists we all love to hate. Although the book might not paint our city in the most gracious light, it is an honest account of a native. Diego, living a life of split Mexican and Caucasian culture, delivers a poignant but subtle message about our city that you will simply have to read to understand.

Frank's split identity is another internal conflict for our protagonist. Full name Francisco Diego, the character is constantly frustrated when no one acknowledges that he is anything but another white guy riding the trolley. The struggle to reconcile one's identity is something that any reader can relate to. In San Diego though, the tale is especially important, for a number of historical reasons Carrillo, the author, touches on during his tale.

Living in San Diego isn't the only important thing in Carrillo's novel. Diego also faces a number of personal struggles, which would be important no matter the geography. There is a special girl in his life, Kate, and their relationship is complicated to say the least. He calls her girlfriend, but it is left up to speculation what their true status is until deep into the story.

Sad, hilarious, and deep, it deserves your attention.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2012
Though I only lived in San Diego for a year, I discovered it wasn't just a white military town with no culture as most people think. I always wondered why no major piece of art has explored what the city really is. 'To Be San Diego' finally does this. It's not only a refreshingly honest narrative of self-discovery, it's a detailed exploration of San Diego's rich social and political history. It could be enjoyed casually but also be used a legitimate text in American History classes. The city I once thought was all about bro's on the beach, staunch Republicanism, and rich white people finally has a new voice in Dominic Carrillo.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2012
I was delightfully surprised because you never know with a debut novelist whether the story will work or fall flat. Thankfully, Frank Diego is an interesting character with issues that are relatable to the average reader. As Frank's day unfolds, the voice and humor become apparent. It made me think and I laughed out loud more than once. I suggest reading the 1st chapter to see if you like the style and angle of Carrillo's writing. If you do, you won't be disappointed to keep reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2012
Taking a day to travel across San Diego on public transportation doesn't sound like much of a trip, but take the trip with Dominic Carrillo's Frank Diego, and it turns into a poignant and funny personal journey. A thoroughly enjoyable read where we get to see Frank Diego as he struggles to come to terms with, and reconcile, the various aspects of his identity. Diego's charm and wit soften what are at times, the brutal honesty of his recollections and his encounters. Couple that with a cast of colorful supporting characters and you've got a story that stays with you after the final page.

I recommend this book and am glad that Carrillo let us take this journey across town with Frank Diego. Hopefully, we'll be seeing more of Frank in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2012
Just finished reading "To Be Frank Diego" by Dominic Carrillo and LOVED IT! As Frank Diego goes through an epic journey, car-less, throughout San Diego he visits some of San Diego's more well known landmarks and offers witty and sarcastic humor as well as some surprising historical insight. As I went along with Frank's self awareness odyssey I could easily relate to his multicultural identity and desire of wanting to see more than what America's Finest City has to offer. Highly recommended read and a must for local San Diegans! Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2012
Carrillo's style of writing drew me in during the first chapter and kept me intrigued until the very last page. He made me consider all of the enlightening people I may have missed by burying my head and not engaging the people around me. He manages to deal with bigotry, racism, stereo-typing, aging, one's own demons as well as love in a funny and heartwarming way, all the while providing the reader with a wonderful tour of our "fair city". I highly recommend this novel. I guarantee you will find yourself among these pages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2013
I read it in the beach at Mondello close to Palermo, it was a beautiful sunny day and I didn't realize that had spent 4 hours. So quickly I read this interesting , fun , charming In some chapters I felt the sensation to live the story..really exciting.
I think next summer I will read it again
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on September 27, 2015
This book was fascinating to read as I'm a San Diego native and every place he talked about in the area, I knew exactly what he was talking about. I have to admit, I actually thought this was literally by accounts a true story, but you look at the book and realize it's a novel in it's entirety so everything the author says is indeed a work of fiction.

What I like about To Be Frank Diego, was the comical storyline itself where he travels all across the city of San Diego to get to his car and the experiences he encounters along the way. Moments in the book, such as running into Raul at the trolley station, hanging out with Natasha, his difficult relationship with his girlfriend Kate, the comedic encounter with Miss Saigon, and words of advice from Carl, the man who changes his life.

I read this book for my Sociology class on Minority Relations and I can see how this relates to this class, because it talks about race and identity being synonymous with psychology and analysis of one's memories. It's an interesting read and I would recommend this book not only for our native San Diego people, but for anyone who enjoys reading stories about journeys, soul-searching, and reinvention in finding your true purpose in life. This book offers good insight into his thoughts and feelings during his single day experience using public transportation for the first time.
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on October 27, 2012
As a full-time working mother of a three-year-old, I rarely read anything for pleasure. If I do, it takes months. Not so with 'To Be Frank Diego'. I couldn't put it down so had to stay up nights to read it. It reminded me of some of Vonnegut's satirical humour and his curt, crisp writing. There were moments I thought about Hemingway and the detached observer looking outwards whilst inwardly reflecting. The sudden sexuality of some of Frank's thoughts brought J.G. Ballard's sensual writing to mind. But, this novel is ALL Carrillo. I found the passage of self-discovery Diego travels both compelling, laugh-out-loud and provocative. The characters he meets in his epic day are everyman characters, you and I have met on tubes, metros, cafes, is not restricted by its setting. I worry for Kate, I want to meet Carl, I felt sorrow for the waitress and mad at the teen bus riders. Here's the thing though, do you think Frank is going to live a vibrant new life of realisation and change? Or, is he hurtling even further to a self-destructive fate? How much would I love to see Tarantino make this movie.
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