The Blue Hippopotamus
by Paul Ehrlich
Trafford Publishing

"Society says you have to choose. But do you have to? Are people unable to love more than one at a time? People can love more than one child at a time. In some families there are ten children, the parents love all ten equally. Does society frown on that?"

This work is a "fictional" breaking of silence enforced by the U.S. Marines some seventy years ago. It concerns a group of five young recruits pulled from Parris Island Boot Camp in 1942 to take part in a Marine Special Forces mission. They are sworn to utmost secrecy and embark on a trip to England to undergo a week of training and then parachute behind German lines to rescue an important figure from a concentration camp. The mission is completed, and the journey home to England through Nazi Germany commences. It is during this perilous trip that our author accidentally falls in love with the young daughter of a German family that provides them with a "safe house" during their escape. This young, innocent love stays with him as he leaves and makes it back to England to be celebrated by royalty and a personal audience with the Queen. The Marines don't know what to do with him upon his return and neither does he.

Earle (mission name) returns to his New York home and decides to go to college instead of becoming a Marine Captain. It is in this part of the book that the effects of his rapid maturation during his mission are explored. His relationship with an odd ex-philosophy professor he calls Guru also develops. Guru’s obsession with attaining a mysterious blue hippopotamus figure from the Met serves as metaphor for the inner struggle that Earle is undergoing. Only Earle's struggle is with his love for Maidi, the German girl he left. Earle eventually marries his American girlfriend from before the war, but when Maidi writes a book about their short meeting, he knows he can't ignore it. The rest of the book deals with how these two individuals negotiate their intense love for each other without hurting their respective families. It is an ideal love that somehow remains alive. It makes for poetic and moving reading.

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