BkRev #1758. Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, Boyle, Gregory, ISBN: 978-1-4391-5315-4, $16.00, Simon and Schuster.

Book by: Gregory Boyle

Review by: Andrea Holliday

Academic Advisor

Columbia Southern University, Orange Beach, AL


New York Times bestseller Gregory Boyle portrays what life is like for children and young adults growing up in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles. This area consisted of two large public housing projects, located in the poorest parish in Los Angeles archdiocese. Boyle reflects on his time as a pastor at Dolores Mission Church and the creation of Homeboy Industries. Boyle candidly tells stories of some of the homeboys and homegirls that he has helped and came in contact with over the years. Boyle gives details of the homeboy’s life experiences. Through his essays he gives honest recounts of events that have taken place, from homeboys turning their lives around to how homeboy’s mom would cry hysterically when their child was killed.

Boyle speaks about how he would minister at different juvenile camps and detention facilities. During the visit he would hand out cards and tell the boys that when they get out to call and he would help them get a job or with tattoo removal. Boyle never forced anyone just planted the seed, that change is possible. Boyle always showed compassion to the homeboys and homegirls he encountered, he even took the time to know everyone’s name. Not just their given name, but the name their mom used. Building a safe place for them to come. Boyle recounts how love and kindness can make a difference in someone’s life.

Boyle provides a real account of how life is for gang members and how even when they try to change their life, it can still catch up to them. Through these stories he shows that by being caring and having compassion you can really make a huge impact on someone’s life. Boyle’s accounts can be emotional at times. This collection of essays will appeal to all readers that enjoy faith based material.

As academic advisors we meet individuals from all backgrounds. Through examples given by Boyle we can see the importance of having compassion for the situations on student face and their background. By showing compassion and kindness we can build a safe place for the students to come. It is important as advisors that our students feel comfortable opening up to us about their problems. By knowing what is going on with a student, we as advisors can make better recommendations on course load, course extensions, withdraws, disability services, etc. Our goal as advisors is to see our students graduate and thrive, but as Boyle talked about it does not matter how much we want it for them, they have to want it for themselves. So our job is to let the students know that we are there to help them achieve a degree if they want it.

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