Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle was recommended to me in early 2021, before we had access to vaccines and the “new normal” of continuing on with our lives in a safe manner, when we were still primarily at home and missing socialization and the creature comforts of life pre-COVID. This book was a great reminder that at the end of the day, all we need is love, and I will forever be recommending it to others.



This is a non-fiction book, so there really is no plot to *spoil* despite my usual disclaimer. There really is not a lot of plot to summarize or analyze, either. Instead, I have major takeaways to share from Father Boyle.

I should probably mention that Gregory Boyle is a Catholic priest also known as Father Boyle. I was raised Catholic, though I am by no means a practicing Catholic (there are loads of blog posts and story Q&As you can view about this) and consider myself to be more broadly Christian and Spiritual. Though my personal experience with Catholicism was not great, I do acknowledge that in all organized religions, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, Confucianism, etc. alike, there are power-hungry people who do bad things with their spiritual influence, and then there are amazing people who truly embody unconditional love and make the world a better place. Father Boyle is in the latter group, and his stories are truly inspirational and moving for people of all religious and spiritual backgrounds.

Father Boyle works with gang populations in Los Angeles, specifically with those just leaving gang life behind and trying to create a new life for themselves. He is the founder of Homeboy Industries, a company that employs former gang members and specifically formerly incarcerated gang members, to get them back on their feet and off the street. The “Homeboys,” as he calls them, are a group of people supported by one another and by Father Boyle and his parish.

I think the way Father Boyle presents faith in the book is wonderful. It’s not shoved down your throat. It’s shown with action by the parish, rather than words, which many have found in their past to be empty.

Overall, this is a great reminder that people can change, we can all make a difference, and having compassion and love for your fellow man is truly the most important thing in life.


  • a great reminder that good is being done in the world and people can change for the better
  • happy overall
  • good messages and takeaways
  • an easy read


  • it’s a rather short book, though I think the length is part of why it’s so powerful

I rarely give 5/5, but this earns it. Please read it. You’ll love it!

add to your library