After the death of her mother, eleven-year-old Gopi, who has been playing squash since she was a small child, is enlisted in a quietly brutal training regimen by her father. Soon the game becomes her world as she slowly distances herself from her sisters in hopes of becoming the best.
... polished and disciplined ... The beauty of Maroo’s novel lies in that unfolding, the narrative shaped as much by what is on the page as by what’s left unsaid ... Conversations are dropped before they start. Language is hampered by stammers and cultural barricades as well as by things too scary and distressing to sound out ... In this graceful novel, the game of squash becomes a way into Gopi’s grief and her attempts to process it.
A slender yet potent family drama ... Maroo's debut is a poignant illustration of the power of sports to help a family deal with grief--and each other--as they gradually make their way out of the darkness ... Maroo... is a marvelous and restrained storyteller and draws readers into Gopi's world with flashbacks from happier times and powerful undertones of a broken family slowly trying to heal ... The hypnotic gloom of Western Lane is undercut with subtle humor and an innocence that radiates from Gopi as she tries with heartbreaking sincerity to embrace the future her father has chosen for her.
Maroo’s subtle and elegant writing at first seems surprisingly restrained for a novel about a subject as high-spirited and energetic as squash and from a narrator as generally high-spirited and energetic as an 11-year-old girl. But Gopi’s retrospective narration accumulates slow layers of heartbreak as the story proceeds, patiently building up an entire landscape of emotion through gestures, silences, and overheard murmurings in the dark. A debut novel of immense poise and promise.