Tattoos on the Heart

Tattoos on the Heart

The Power of Boundless Compassion

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Father Gregory Boyle's sparkling parables about kinship and the sacredness of life are drawn from twenty years working with gangs in LA.

How do you fight despair and learn to meet the world with a loving heart? How do you overcome shame? Stay faithful in spite of failure? No matter where people live or what their circumstances may be, everyone needs boundless, restorative love. Gorgeous and uplifting, Tattoos on the Heart amply demonstrates the impact unconditional love can have on your life.

As a pastor working in a neighborhood with the highest concentration of murderous gang activity in Los Angeles, Gregory Boyle created an organization to provide jobs, job training, and encouragement so that young people could work together and learn the mutual respect that comes from collaboration. Tattoos on the Heart is a breathtaking series of parables distilled from his twenty years in the barrio. Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally. From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JCPenney fresh out of prison, we learn how to feel worthy of God's love. From ten-year-old Lula we learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Pedro we understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the darkness. In each chapter we benefit from Boyle's wonderful, hard-earned wisdom. Inspired by faith but applicable to anyone trying to be good, these personal, unflinching stories are full of surprising revelations and observations of the community in which Boyle works and of the many lives he has helped save.

Erudite, down-to-earth, and utterly heartening, these essays about universal kinship and redemption are moving examples of the power of unconditional love in difficult times and the importance of fighting despair. With Gregory Boyle's guidance, we can recognize our own wounds in the broken lives and daunting struggles of the men and women in these parables and learn to find joy in all of the people around us. Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.
Publisher: New York, NY : Free Press, 2010.
Edition: First Free Press hardcover edition.
ISBN: 9781439153024
Branch Call Number: 277.9494 BOY
Characteristics: xv, 217 pages ; 23 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Aug 28, 2020

This is a book that I won't soon forget. Father Gregory Boyle, known as "G" to the homies in the Southern California gangs he has ministered to for 30 years, has written an honest, heartwarming, moving set of essays that above all are examples of compassion. With humor, tenderness, honesty, and humility, Boyle shares his experiences: how the lives of young gang members and their families are changed through redemption, forgiveness, violence, jobs, encouragement, and God's love. You don't have to be a believer to be moved by these stories as the broken lives and daunting struggles of these boys and girls shift from darkness to joy. Not all stories end happily, but Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another. This one is going on my "Favorites" list. You'll be glad you read this book.

Jun 27, 2020

SO glad I read this book. The amazing patience, love, perseverance, humility demonstrated by Father Boyle in working with those whom we might consider the 'least of these' - - realizing that at we are ALL 'the least of these'. An excellent story-teller, Father Boyle embodies the very best of being a man of God in the truest form of a flawed human being, with humor, insight and true spirituality. His love and acceptance of everyone is a model for us all.

May 22, 2020

My husband quotes from this book. My son marked the book up. I have a Bible verse taped to my computer that was in this book. We gave this book to our church pastors for Christmas.

Dec 28, 2019


Sep 30, 2019

The author is a pastor and a realist in a neighborhood dominated by gang activity. His acceptance of each person just as they are, with gentle and/or firm guidance to finding the best in themselves and others really spoke to me. He is a role model to cherish. The book is quite inspirational.

Jul 29, 2019

So inspiring. Totally changed my perspective on people and even how I see God. Loved it!

Jan 06, 2019

Yo, homeboys/Homegirls: Check this book out! Rev. Boyle spins a beautiful yarn here about his work in the Holy Roman Catholic church in LA, among the marginalized, incarcerated. Hashtag, forgiveness/redemption/HUMOR!!

SnoIsleLib_LeahA Mar 26, 2018

Filled with amusing gangster malapropisms, this heartwarming collection reveals the humanity inherent in every person.

Jun 28, 2014

This was a very inspiring book. It is comforting to know that in a world where the news is filled with crimes and hatred, that there are individuals putting aside judgement to help those most in need.

Apr 21, 2012

This book changed my life. It is incredibly powerful. I laughed and I cried, often at the same time.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at ORL

To Top