The Dolphin People by Torsten Krol
Updated: Feb 14
Summary: A family decides to leave Germany after WWII to go to Venezuela and start over. After their plane crashes, they find themselves living with nudist Venezuelan Indians who think these white strangers are dolphins turned human.
Review: Have you ever bought a book based only on the title and cover and been completely wrong in what you think the book is about? Well, this was The Dolphin People for me. I was expecting some sit-by-the-fire, cocoa-in-hand, sweet story about learning to swim with dolphins, but what I got was way better. In fact, so much better that I read all 356 pages in one day.
First, I will say this book is very bizarre and gruesome. When you're talking about Germany during WWII and tribal Indians with their traditions, there's bound to be some gore. This book though took it a bit further. At the beginning I found myself questioning Krol's choices, but, admittedly, by the end, everything had a purpose and came together.
Erich Linden's adventure into discovering himself and a new world isn't dull for even a moment, from his uncle becoming his step-dad, finding out his brother is a hermaphrodite (the book's word, we all know now the right word is intersex), falling in love with an Indian woman with bones in her face, seeing someone eaten alive by fish, learning the funeral rituals of the tribe include eating the bones in plantain soup, and more.
This book is very dark, but it also questions right and wrong. I liked that in the beginning we see a family who fully supported Hitler and the Reich's mission, but their horror at seeing the Indians settle disputes and injustices makes them question their beliefs. In the end, the message is clear: A parrot is not a bat. (You'll have to read to find out what that means.)
Overall, I enjoyed the dark twists and turns of this book. I think the lessons are important even today in the world.