The main theme I saw in this book was the life changing events in gang members due to Gregory Boyle and Homeboy Industries. Some of the stories were really funny, but a lot of them were sad and emotional. Gregory emphasized greatly on how serious the life of a gang member was and the changed in gangsters lives.
In many cases, former gang members who wanted to start their lives over and work at Homeboy Industries had to work with people who were rivals with their own gangs. For me it would be like working with a Taliban terrorist who was responsible for the deaths of many Americans. That is easier said than done, but it did happen and, eventually, it did work. However, the new bond between former gang rivals did not seem to last long. Many of the former gang members who started their lives over were killed by gang members. It never ended. There were always gangs, always funerals, and always hatred that never seemed to end, no matter how much Homeboy Industries.
What was even more sad were the kids who grew up with parents in gangs, and thus the bad parent influence on the kids. I remember one child, who was about 7 when he did this, held a gun to his father and threatened him at if he ever abused his mother again he’d kill him. I was happy that the kid was willing to take a stand for his mother, but the option of putting a bullet through his fathers head was beyond sad. That was actually the most common reason for people joining gangs; parental influence. The kids reflected whatever their parents did, so the former gang members who had had that childhood wanted to give their kids a better one; one with a mom and dad who loved each other and taught their kids moral values so that when they grew up they won’t have anything to do with gangs.
It was incredible to walk through Gregory’s experiences with gang members who wanted to start their lives over, but even though the number of gangs seem to grow, the number of funerals seem infinite, and hate will never end Homeboy Industries saved a lot of lives that would not have been saved without them.