Tattoos on the Heart: Stories of Hope, Compassion, and Unconditional Love

Gregory Boyle, Author . Free Press $25 (217p) ISBN 978-1-4391-5302-4

In this artful, disquieting, yet surprisingly jubilant memoir, Jesuit priest Boyle recounts his two decades of working with “homies” in Los Angeles County, which contains 1,100 gangs with nearly 86,000 members. Boyle’s Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention program in the country, offering job training, tattoo removal, and employment to members of enemy gangs. Effectively straddling the debate regarding where the responsibility for urban violence lies, Boyle both recounts the despair of watching “the kids you love cooperate in their own demise” and levels the challenge to readers to “stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.” From moving vignettes about gangsters breaking into tears or finding themselves worthy of love and affirmation, to moments of spiritual reflection and sidesplittingly funny banter between him and the homies, Boyle creates a convincing and even joyful treatise on the sacredness of every life. Considering that he has buried more than 150 young people from gang-related violence, the joyful tenor of the book remains an astounding literary and spiritual feat. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/08/2010
Release date: 03/01/2010
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FORMATS
Compact Disc - 978-1-61174-434-7
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-986-175-262-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-61174-435-4
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-1-4391-5315-4
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