Forgive Everyone Everything by Gregory Boyle reminds us, page by page, that we can always choose to be more expansive, more loving, and more compassionate. Boyle exemplifies the heart of God occasionally through spiritual wisdom learned from folks like Mother Theresa and Marcus Borg but most often through the spiritual wisdom learned from the homies he lives and works among at Homeboy Industries in East Los Angeles.

For this volume, Boyle teamed up with Fabian Debora, a street artist and former gang member. Boyle presents anecdotes gleaned from some of his previous publications side by side with Debora’s gorgeous paintings, which express human pain, joy, and pride against a backdrop of urban Los Angeles. Each story and image, along with a verse from the Bible, are contained in the two sides of an open, landscape-oriented page, creating a sort of space for the reader to dwell in.

One page a day would make an inspiring morning devotional or meditation; alternately, it could be used just as well in small group discussions with teenagers, family members, or community groups. The anecdotes are simple, and the reflections can be absorbed in a breath, but the insights about kinship, belonging, compassion, dignity, loss, and goodness deserve time and attention and are ripe for exploration.

Boyle works every day with those who have been largely forgotten and thrown out, but he has learned that reaching an audience (of listeners or readers) is not about “rail[ing] against [people’s] indifference” but about “introduc[ing] them to their own goodness.” Consequently, Boyle’s tone is unfailingly encouraging: in his own way, he’s cheering the reader onto greater things, believing in them as he believes in the homies.

With Boyle and the homies as examples, it’s hard not to believe that we can “be in the world who God is" — that we can forgive everyone everything, see everyone as our own, and treat everyone with compassion. With each anecdote, what we once saw as impossible work seems simpler and more doable. After all, Boyle writes, “All Jesus asks is, ‘Where are you standing?’ And after chilling defeat and soul-numbing failure, He asks again, ‘Are you still standing there?’ ”