Summer of Blue

Summer of Blue book cover
Cover design by Simon Davis

All Milly has is hope. Her brother, Neel, is missing and presumed dead in Afghanistan, but she refuses to give up on him. As she turns seventeen, there are only three wishes she wants to come true: get Neel home, get a boyfriend, get into Cambridge University.

When Milly and her three privileged friends are catapulted into misadventures, capers with unsuitable boys and the pressures of friendships, family and Sixth Form, it’s almost more than she can bear.

From the spires of Cambridge to sunny Mumbai and the shadows of war-torn Afghanistan, Milly’s offbeat story of love, loss and longing confirms that life is anything but predictable.


For eBook, press and other enquiries, contact:

Arcadia Books Ltd
Highlever Road
London W10

Download the official press release


LiveMint & The Wall Street Journal
The plot moves along at a fast clip, though the story doesn’t always take the turns you would normally expect. Summer Of Blue is a breezy read, one that we expect will keep you happily employed on a weekend indoors as it becomes scorching hot without. Read the whole review at LiveMint

I finally did read Summer of Blue. I found the friendships quite engaging. The issues Milly faces are real and the plot had depth. Typical teenage issues are discussed throughout the book, but what spoke to me most was Milly’s relationship with Mumbai and her missing brother Neel. (Although I’m not sure brothers are always so nice!) Milly’s love life seemed slightly clichéd at times, particularly at the start, but her struggle with her Indian identity, felt original. Overall I enjoyed reading it!

I’ve just finished reading your book. I did enjoy reading it and given the grim heart-rending events and the tricky political questions, I think it is major feat of plot construction and characterisation on your part. Due to the latter, the book has a very warm feeling to it, which counterbalances the horrific real-world events. I very much like the way in which you weave complex ideas, serious issues and politics into the narrative, by using the odd, very well chosen, word, phrase or saying.  My favourite line is from one of Neel’s letters, “The past is history, the future is mystery and the present is all we’ve got!”

As I read this story I imagined myself in the shoes of my teenage daughter who endured my absence in Afghanistan for a year — and then the beauty of this book became clear.
— Martin Middlebrook, international photojournalist

I was glad to be able to get to your book launch and have enjoyed reading it, in spite of my deep aversion to the Eton/Alcott world. It has a good plot, and I thought you portrayed Milly, her family and the Afghanistan scenario very movingly.
— Lucy Walker

The new novel brilliantly captures the excitement and confusion of adolescence, played out against the backdrop of Cambridge but with events in Helmand playing a defining role. A rich cast of characters makes for surprising and entertaining situations, but at the core of the novel is a lingering heartache which will keep the reader guessing.
— Ralph Woodward

Many bits resonate — like the joys of the old wooden cupboard with sarees and jewellery, the Mumbai descriptions and well, most of the Indian bits. Mallika is very endearing. (My head continued to spin with the teenagers and their complex lives, though.)

In the movie, I think Neel should be gay (Patrick?). And he should have gone to war, then run away and be living and working as a peace activist… tormented equally by guilt and sense of purpose.

What appealed: endearing leading lady and genuine moments of desiness. The text conversations were funny. Good engagement with the Afghanistan debate.

What didn’t: the Mills and Boon moments — would’ve loved more edge. (But I am not your target audience.)
— RP

It felt like I knew those people. They (the characters) were so relatable. I really want to meet these people in real life.
— DL

I absolutely loved the book! I had that longing feeling after reading such a good book that I felt in the world of the book and it took me a moment to readjust myself every time I put it down. It’s so inspiring about holding onto hope and I felt sad once it was over, in a good way, of course.
— JL

I love love love it! It’s captivating! I took it to college yesterday and showed my friends. I loved the relationship between Neel and Milly. It felt so real and powerful. I have a hard time choosing my favourite from the two, because while one holds onto hope, the other symbolizes it. I loved the photograph bit and my favourite parts would be those.

Just finished reading Summer of Blue. I enjoyed it a lot. I’ve suggested it to my friends.
— KS

Summer of Blue is full of contemporary voices.
— Victor Watson, Paradise Barn series

Balsari’s writing is observant, witty, sad, funny, shocking, provocative and yet deeply satisfying.
— Jane Wilson-Howarth, A Glimpse of Eternal Snows

The book … was most conspicuous by the vivid orange red colour. I read it on Sunday, and liked it. I was quite anxious for Neel … it took almost the last page to know. The Mumbai Darshan is authentic, so the Cambridge Darshan also may be. (I have never been to London, to look at the Queen, or otherwise.) The language is , LIKE, teenish? (Teenager English …) Best is the quote: ” If we could be teenagers twice in a lifetime, we might get it right once.” Perfect T Shirt matter for the Teens. They would love it.
— Medha Taskar, Librarian, St. Xavier’s College

I have just finished Summer of Blue. A brilliant read. I loved the references to Cambridge. I was engaged from the first chapter which achieved such a build up of swift pace of things happening with words — so clever.So many clever things built in — such as defining geometric shapes from bread. Such lovely detail — for instance of eating sasam.The first love instances were charming and exciting .The atmosphere of Mumbai and descriptions made me feel I knew it too. And of course the story of Neel. Chapter 17 — yes, how could all that stuff have simply poured out of your head? Remarkable.Your talent shines out of this book.
— Gloria Gillott