Every year, school districts plan some kind of district-wide pep rally to boost morale and start the year off right. In 2012, they invited the author and narrator of "Tattoos on the Heart" to speak at ours. It was easily the best one I’ve ever been to – lucky for me, since that was the year I waved goodbye to esteemed colleagues who I had known for about 17 years and Brent and I moved about 1,300 miles southeast from anyone we knew. It seemed a good time to listen to the book as I’m getting ready for another school year. I’m still the same distance from LA, except that now I’m north. One especially good theme in the collection of stories was that measuring our efforts by outcomes that are either labeled as “successes” or “failures” can be murky, and sometimes it’s a bit beside the point. Clearly, we need to reflect on our contributions, our successes and failures. Sometimes, though, we just need to persist in being a positive force regardless of outcomes, provided we keep an open ear for how we could do better.There was a different theme that kept nettling me until the very end. I value books that force me to ask myself why I think or feel a certain way. Boyle’s main theme – right on the cover, in fact, is using unwavering compassion to enact change, emphasizing that compassion does not mean endorsing someone’s crimes. It does mean that helping people be better not only helps them, but it helps everyone around them. In the process of making this point, Boyle presents stories that underscore reaching out to “victim and victimizer alike” as Homeboy Industries aims to persuade all sides to either literally or figuratively lay down their guns. I could clearly understand how this made sense when talking about the public violence of gangs, so I had to ask myself why that point – helping “victim and victimizer alike” kept prickling at me. By the end, I finally pinned it down. Growing up in a severely sexist church and private school system, that phrase (or a variation of it) came up as well, but often with a much different subject. Rather than discussing the complexities of addressing public violence, this thought was often attached to domestic violence, crimes against children, and bullying. People prided themselves on making gestures to “forgive” and “show compassion” to the perpetuators of these acts. When it came time to address the victims though, they were not just silent, they found a dozen ways to communicate blame. By the last hour of the book though, I had to admit that I was stuck on the phrase “victim and victimizer alike” not because of what the book was actually talking about, but because of how other people have used that sentiment. Ultimately, it was a refreshing way to dwell on a core value that drives a good portion of my life – that we do ourselves, and society, a service when we seek to see people in as much of their entirety as we are able to see them, rather than hastily label and pigeonhole those around us.
I didn't care for the narrrator and the story was not compelling enough for me to stay interested.
I can't image anyone having a heart so hardened that this book will not move it. . . And move it in ways that can only soften it.
After listening to this book (twice) I find it hard to recommend anything other than Gregory Boyle's (author) audio version. Having lived this story his interpretation and inflections are perfect! I've no doubt I will listen again and again.
I personally believe this book to be deserving of several audio awards.
It's the best book that addresses gangs, Without making it about gangs. I listened to the book twice, the best so far.
of all time. I read it twice, listened to it twice and have bought it for everyone I know. Powerfully written and read with great humor and love, I was laughing and crying throughout. It is at once uplifting, heartbreaking, hilarious, and inspiring.