Robert's family moves to Silver Cliffs after his father's graduation in pharmacy. During a visit at the town's paper mill, the unexpected happens. Robert witnesses his father's inability to save a mill worker after a caustic black-liquor spill. The incident sets the pace for the story. Robert feels he is part of a mysterious process he doesn't understand. Of course, for him, everything that has happened is linked to his hostile new hometown, a place he wishes he had never even heard about. No matter how devastating the events appear to be, the development of Robert's character indicates that he can recover from what has happened. Although the past is still strongly rooted within him - there is hope for Robert because he is fighting to heal and to forget the past. And because he is fighting to get better, The Hippopotamus in the Rain is definitely a compelling story to read.