Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion” as Want to Read:
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  13,763 ratings  ·  2,169 reviews
“Destined to become a classic of both urban reportage and contemporary spirituality” ( Los Angeles Times )—Tattoos on the Heart is a series of parables about kinship and redemption from pastor, activist, and renowned speaker, Father Gregory Boyle.

For twenty years, Father Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neig
...more
Kindle Edition, 242 pages
Published (first published March 9th 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tattoos on the Heart, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
David Yes, there is a good bit of profanity but not particularly offensive. There is no way to sanitize this story if faithfully re-told.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,763 ratings  ·  2,169 reviews


Filter
 | 
Sort order
Shelli
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2012
This book makes me want to love better. PERIOD. I have never had such a clear picture of how God loves even me... especially me. Everyone should read this book and buy 10 copies to give away. All proceeds go to Homeboy Industries.
Liz
Dec 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every Christian
It is interesting to me that if you read about people who work with the most wounded of human beings, they tend to have a very expansive view of God and a very inclusive Christian theology.

Fr. Greg Boyle works with Latino gangs in the public housing projects of LA. (I could have said "gang-infested" projects but Fr. Boyle makes a point in the book about language which brings shame to "life and love challenged" kids- I mean what do you think of when you say something is "infested"?) Instead he
...more
Trish
It could be the thing I like best about Boyle’s stories are the changes made to one word of common phrases so that the meanings come up again, fresh and clear and relatable, like “wash your iniquities,” or “I hear your cancer’s in intermission.”

The other thing I enjoy Father Boyle’s work for is to hear how he takes the thoughts and work of others to meditate on. In this book he quotes the poet Mary Oliver many times, Rumi, Mother Teresa, Pema Chödrön, among others. There is always something int
...more
Herbie

I should mention, first, for the benefit of anyone who doesn't live in Los Angeles or follow closely the arena of gang prevention, that Father Greg Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, the most well-known gang prevention program in the gang capital of the US, Los Angeles. The organization's slogan is "Nothing stops a bullet like a job," and Father Boyle (or "G" as he is known) has made it his vocation to hire convicted felons straight out of jail and employ them in various Homeboy enterpr
...more
Heather Jacks
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always been a little left of center; deeply spiritual, not terribly religious; a modern day hunter and gatherer of theological principles and wisdom. I imagine something akin to a recycling center inside my head. Everything separated and compartmentalized, waiting to be processed and then smooshed into something new; something that I can use...that `fits' me. In this new creation bits and pieces of many great spiritual traditions are found and the unused portions are released, like mist i ...more
Sandy
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I think I cried more listening to this book than any book - and that's saying a lot. I think I laughed more reading this book than most books I have read. Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest and founder of Homeboy Industries (whose motto is "Nothing stops a bullet like a job") in Los Angeles, has dedicated most of his life to working with gang members in the projects in L.A. He is my new hero. His life is dedicated to compassion and inclusion and joy, and his God touches my heart like no other ...more
Irene
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fr. Boyle has spent 3 decades ministering to youth involved in gangs in Los Angeles. With compassion, reverence and wisdom, Fr. Boyle weaves the stories of the young people who have touched his life with spiritual reflections on the mercy, acceptance and unconditional love of God. 4.5 stars
Hunso
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Tattoos on the Heart because the title caught my eye. Regina King, the star of Southland, was interviewed in O Magazine in the March issue, and was asked what was the best book she had read recently. She named this one.So I looked it up on Amazon and loaded it on my kindle. I was on vacation at the time and I read it in less than 2 days. I once read somewhere that compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use. Fr. G is what we are all called to be, humble, caring, loving, and able to ...more
Martha
I met Fr. Greg Boyle several years ago, and later began working as the psychotherapist in residence assisting people from immigrant communities to gang communities. Fr. G's life was previously written by another author, Celeste Fremon, who wrote about Fr. G but after many years, and after telling the many stories about his Homeboys and Homegirls at conferences and at universities, today, December 15, 2010, he spoke on the Dr. Phil show. Fr. Greg is a humble, holy, courageous and wonderfully comp ...more
Carmel
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the new American dream: what one person can do to make a difference for a lot of people. Making the world a better place. Choosing love over hate. Fr. Boyle is a hero.
Robin
Nov 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the story on Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in LA, and those of the "homies" that he serves. The organization helps gang members in LA find work, get their tattoos removed, and have a fresh start. I was inspired by how beautifully Fr. Boyle lives out his Christian faith. I think a lot of people could learn from his example of truly serving the poor and expressing love rather than judgment. However, as someone who is not a Christian some of his messages didn't ...more
Tim Eby-mckenzie
Quite possibly the most powerful book I have read to date. I spent late night reflection time reading this book over a period of months, just soaking it in. I found myself unable to resist tears quite often, so moved by the compassion and wisdom reflected in the stories "G-dog" relates. The grace communicated so expansively through Father Greg's exposition of the "Narrow Gate" completely changed my perspective on Matthew's gospel. Before, I just hoped I might be able to squeeze in by the skin of ...more
Danielle Palmer
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book I would have chosen to read. My mom and I have a book club, and she chose this one, and I was dreading reading it. What a surprise I encountered, then, to find a book that is not preachy - but instead humorous, eye opening, and thought provoking. I laughed out loud more times reading this book on God and gangsters than I did reading any book that was classified as a comedy. This book made me grateful for the location and circumstances I have been born into, and hopefully less ...more
David
The website caption for Fr. Greg Boyle's organization reads: "Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education." While apparently accurate, having read about his experiences first hand it seems like a bit of an understatement.

Tattoos on the Heart contains the insights received by Fr. Boyle through his work in the gang capital of LA. Powerful almost seems an understatement as yo
...more
Jennifer
From My Blog...[return][return]Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle is a deeply moving, heartwarming series of essays from some of the most memorable times of Father Boyle’s career. Father Boyle has been a Jesuit Priest for 25 years working with many sections of the population that others deem frightening at best, including his work at his beloved Dolores Mission and the creation of Homeboy Industries (which is brilliant and what he refers to as a “tiny drop in a pretty big bucket” yet one we a ...more
Heather
Ok, so this was a book I was reluctant to start, but we were reading it for book group. So two days before I opened it up. I knew the general story about Gregory Boyle's work with the inner city gangs of Los Angeles, and how he started Homeboy Industries . . . but wow. I can't even explain how much this book affected me. Not because of the horrible lives of the gang members, and even when they tried to get out, oftentimes they ended up dead anyway. But because of the many lessons and examples of ...more
Barbara
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I heard Father Boyle interviewed on NPR a few months ago and was inspired by his work. He is a Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries in LA in 1988. Homeboy Industries helps former gang members redirect their lives and become contributing members of their families and community by offering training, job skills and much more.

Tattoos on the Heart is a collection of anecdotes of Father Boyle's work which are compassionate, inspirational, thought-provoking, funny, tragic and unforgettable. Hi
...more
Brennan
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It is difficult to put into words how deeply moved I was by the message of this book. Gregory Boyle is a Catholic priest who ministers to the youth in Los Angeles probation camps and juvenile detention centers. In an effort to combat gang related violence, he founded Homeboy Industries - an organization that provides jobs and meaningful work for youth affected by gangs. What he has done -- and what the countless number of youth have done in response -- is as inspiring as any thing I know.

His st
...more
Mike
A wonderfully moving (and occasionally hilarious) account of 25 years of work with gang members in Los Angeles. The author is a Jesuit priest and the founder of Homeboy Industries, a program probably most famous for their motto Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job. But this isn't a "how to fix gang members" book. It's much more about living with and finding kinship with people that most of society prefers to either demonize or write off as unsalvageable or both. I highly recommend it. One of the be ...more
Donna
I enjoyed this. It was very inspirational and I would definitely read this again. This falls into the autobiography genre, but it was so much more than just that. The author felt called to make difference in gang ridden communities in Los Angeles. He promoted positive and constructive changes and he worked his faith into this. I also liked that the author sounded like a normal person but one who had a powerful story to tell. Very warm and very fuzzy. So 5 stars.
Judith
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing, inspirational, funny, sad, well-written book. Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries to assist the most violent gang-ridden section of Los Angeles. The style of the book is very casual, as if you are sitting at a party with an expert story teller, who never runs out of real life anecdotes. He is a preacher, but never seems to be preaching. In fact, it is the best spiritual book I have read in years and made me wish I was still a believer.

The author i
...more
Robin Boggs
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best if not the best read I've had all year. A collection of stories of a truly compassionate man Father Greg Boyle who founded Homeboy Industries in LA and has dedicated his life to reforming gang members by first showing them love and compassion and showing them that they are valued and that God loves them and created them the way they are on purpose. Then providing them with jobs and counseling and even tattoo removal. The power of God's love has no bounds! As Mark J Torres , belov ...more
Katina
Jan 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
"G," Father Boyle, is a perfect contrast to Greg Mortenstern. Instead of bragging and inflating the success stories of his amazing organization, "Homeboy Industries," he tells personal stories and shares spiritual insights into what it has meant to him to serve and, eventually work alongside, an impoverished and gang-dominated public housing community in Boyle Heights, L.A.

Boyle is a strong writer and I really couldn't put this book down. I will probably buy a copy so I can (shamelessly) dog ear
...more
Mary
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listened on audio– I think it would've been five stars either way, but hearing Greg read his own words was intensely powerful. The kind of book everyone needs to read, but it especially resonated with me because of my work and my client population. I can't stop recommending this to everyone, and I certainly won't be able to stop thinking about it for a while to come!
Kaytee Cobb
Buddy read with Sasha and Morgan, since we were outvoted for the book club readalong. This book is fantastic. Father G (Boyle) runs Homeboy Ministries in downtown LA, which provides services from jobs to tattoo removal to counseling to Catholic services in Spanish and English. His stories, like those of many wonderful priests and pastors, are poignant and funny and heartbreaking and exciting. They bring "the power of boundless compassion" to life, and really cause the reader to re-think his or h ...more
Stacey
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title and picture on the cover made me think twice about reading this book, but I'm so glad I got past that because this book was amazing. Not only is Gregory Boyle an inspirational person, but he's also a gifted writer. I loved the insights he shared and his approach to life and to loving and serving individuals. Beautiful!
Hufflepuff Book Reviewer
The author did a lot of astounding work, but I don't agree with his message that humankind is essentially good.
Drew
Oct 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful read, at turns heartbreaking and hilarious. A lot of beautiful stories about seeking the humanity of and living in community with people the world shuns.
Wendy Turner
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely wonderful! Inspired to see and share the vast, expansive, no-matter-what love and approval of the Father.
Jennifer Defoy
The stories in this book were so touching. There were times I was crying and times I was laughing. Hope and compassion are really great words to use when talking about this book.

There were so many stories, and while they were all touching they were presented in a way that seemed a bit jumpy to me. If the stories had flowed better I would have been much happier with this one. But it was still pretty good as it is.

The language took a bit for me to get used to. Greg Boyle's language shocked me th
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life
  • G-Dog and the Homeboys: Father Greg Boyle and the Gangs of East Los Angeles
  • Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion
  • Stations of the Heart: Parting with a Son
  • The Pastor: A Memoir
  • Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx
  • Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith
  • Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me about Meaningful Work and Service
  • A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community
  • Following the Path: The Search for a Life of Passion, Purpose, and Joy
  • One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly: The Art of Seeking God
  • Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor
  • Theirs Is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America
  • Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace
  • Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life
  • In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World
  • An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
  • The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of the Legendary Catholic Social Activist
223 followers
As Executive Director of Homeboy Industries and an acknowledged expert on gangs and intervention approaches, Fr. Boyle is an internationally renowned speaker. He has given commencement addresses at numerous universities, as well as spoken at conferences for teachers, social workers, criminal justice workers and others about the importance of adult attention, guidance and unconditional love in prev ...more
“Close both eyes see with the other one. Then we are no longer saddled by the burden of our persistent judgments our ceaseless withholding our constant exclusion. Our sphere has widened and we find ourselves quite unexpectedly in a new expansive location in a place of endless acceptance and infinite love.” 100 likes
“Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.” 79 likes
More quotes…