I've been mulling over this one for a few days - one sign of a good book, I think. Poking around the web, this appears to be a chacun à son goût novel - some people just plain hated it, some are whining about it winning an award because it's not Real Literature(tm), and so on.Me? I loved it when I closed the last page, and I still love it now. It's I guess a 'coming of age' novel; it involves a mid-teens male main character, multiple friendships between male teens, cricket, a touch of romance - teen romance which actually feels authentic, with awkward stutterings and wish-the-world-would-swallow-me-up moments, and a mysterious death. There are small-town racial tensions, long-held prejudices, and - be warned - child abuse and bullying and ableism and racist bashings.You can happily read it just in a plotty way, but I've been left mulling it over as an all-angles musing on the nature of "Sorry". Nowhere is the book explicitly framed as examining "Sorry" in Australian racial reconciliation terms, but the connections are all there.This passage is really the heart of it, I think. And it resonates, forward and backward, throughout the novel."Sorry means you leave yourself open, to embrace or to ridicule or revenge. Sorry is a question that begs forgiveness, because the metronome of a good heart won’t settle until things are set right and true. Sorry doesn’t take things back, but it pushes things forward. It bridges the gap. Sorry is sacrament. It’s an offering. A gift. [...]Sorry means you feel the pulse of other people’s pain, as well as your own, and saying it means you take a share of it. And so it binds us together, makes us as trodden and sodden as one another. Sorry is a lot of things. It’s a hole refilled. A debt repaid. Sorry is the wake of misdeed. It’s the crippling ripple of consequence. Sorry is sadness, just as knowing is sadness. Sorry is sometimes self-pity. But Sorry, really, is not about you. It’s theirs to take or leave. [...]Maybe Sorry isn’t as simple as I think it is. Or as honourable or romantic or grand. Maybe it’s just the refuge of the weak. Maybe it’s just the calming balm of the bad and the ruthless. Maybe it’s little or no reward for those in receipt. Maybe it’s just an empty promise, the gift of a hollow box. Maybe it’s self-serving and loveless. Maybe it takes what it needs and gives nothing back."