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Help Me, Jacques Cousteau

Help Me, Jacques Cousteau

5.0 1
by Gil Adamson

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With her multiple-award-winning, bestselling, and critically acclaimed novel The Outlander, Gil Adamson established herself as one of North America's preeminent fiction writers. But ten years before The Outlander Adamson published another book of fiction with a small press, and writers, readers, and critics immediately sat up and took note. With this


With her multiple-award-winning, bestselling, and critically acclaimed novel The Outlander, Gil Adamson established herself as one of North America's preeminent fiction writers. But ten years before The Outlander Adamson published another book of fiction with a small press, and writers, readers, and critics immediately sat up and took note. With this new updated edition, Adamson’s fascinating portrait of a young woman’s coming of age is ready for readers once again. Help Me, Jacques Cousteau presents the life and times of Hazel, who is born into an extraordinary family alongside her brother Andrew. Hazel’s experiences, at once odd and completely believable, involve a diverse cast of family members who share only one thing: a penchant for eccentric behavior. In portraying a strange, compelling, dysfunctional family, Adamson demonstrates her powerful prose style, uniquely combining a scientist’s loving attention to detail, a comic’s unerring delivery, and a poet’s sublime ear.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
When poet and author Adamson's book The Outlander became a bestseller and award winner, critics remembered this earlier work, which is now being reprinted. The collection of impressions, sketches, and short stories are linked by Hazel's voice from earliest childhood onward, forming a portrait of a wildly eccentric family including her father, a teacher who loves to take things apart but often forgets to put them together again, and her tall, strong, independent mother, who harbors grave suspicions about marriage. Her uncles—violent Castor, who collects animals, and disheveled Bishop—join an endless string of "Aunties." An earnest little brother Andrew starts out being very nearsighted, but in the end, may be the one who best survives this dysfunctional family. Others come and go, including Hazel's memorable grandfather, a man often at odds with his wife and capable of keeping a dead pet dog in his car until he tires of it. As Hazel grows up, memories flit through her consciousness, leaving behind details that often blur. When her mother leaves, Hazel becomes ever more shadowy, as Andrew grows into a tall, muscular young man who has a genius for anything mechanical or electronic, seemingly inheriting the best of each parent. The stories end with the entire family attending a Christmas funeral of someone they do not know, while Hazel appears to be drifting into nymphomania. This book is not for every teen, but it might fascinate a more mature reader or adult who can respond to a poet's voice and grasp for meaning as the elusive ghosts flit by. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Hazel and her brother, Andrew, belong to a family of eccentrics. Their dad, North, is constantly rewiring the house and studying the weather. Their mother just up and leaves them one day. One uncle collects only white animals, while another is constantly changing girlfriends. The rest of the family shows up on a whim from time to time, and even the neighbors, whom Hazel enjoys spying on, are a little odd. As Hazel narrates her life beginning from a young age, following the birth of her brother, her adolescence, and her young adulthood, readers get to know the quirky characters who make up her world. With subtle humor and lyrical, at times almost poetic, writing ("We hurry along the road in the snow, looking like an assortment of bonbons in frilly wrappings"), Adamson weaves a story that will give readers comfort in knowing their families aren't the only ones with their fair share of kookiness.—Gina Bowling, South Gibson County High School, Medina, TN
Kirkus Reviews
A fine prose stylist shows her chops in this reissue-and first U.S. publication-of her 1995 debut. In 13 tenuously connected episodes, introspective Hazel creates largely amusing character portraits of her parents, her younger brother Andrew, her grandparents and selected neighbors over a period that spans her own childhood and adolescence. Though developing into a moody teen who takes far less interest in studies or friends than in spying on neighbors, chronicling challenged marriages and (latterly) seducing men, Hazel is surrounded by quirky, appealing people, and the vignettes are lightened by wonderful turns of phrase. School "looms like a permanent seat at the dentist's." "Nothing can stroll quite like a horse." Visiting cousins pour out of their car "like fish from a bucket." So disguised and understated is Adamson's brand of humor, however, that it will take readers who are particularly sensitive to nuances of tone and language to appreciate it fully. Buy it for teens and adults who match that description. (Fiction. 15-adult)
Library Journal
Canadian writer Adamson's second novel (published a decade before her 2007 novel The Outlander) takes a humorous look at one very odd family. When teenage narrator Hazel says that she is "as much fun as a rattlesnake" and that her baby brother Andrew has "toes like corn niblets," it's clear that she's giving her own unadorned view of this family. Hazel's father, North, has a fondness for making gadgets and studying the weather. Uncle Castor collects white animals: dogs, cats, rabbits, and geese. Another uncle named Bishop has a string of crazy girlfriends, all of whom must be called Auntie. In addition to visits from nasty cousins, who "pour out of the car like fish from a bucket," Hazel endures a brother who has invented solar-powered curtains and a grandfather who claims to have eaten mastodon. Hazel more than meets the challenges of growing up among such eccentric people until the ending brings her life into serious focus. VERDICT Adamson's vivid characters are zany without being cartoonish. Perfect for readers looking for books similar to Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother or Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle.—Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO

Product Details

House of Anansi Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)
920L (what's this?)
Age Range:
16 Years

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Help Me, Jacques Cousteau 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Brian_Mohr More than 1 year ago
I saw this book when wandering through a local bookstore. I was talking with someone on how people select books and how much a cover matters to buyers. Passing by countless books with uninspiring covers I saw this book. While the cover isn't the greatest it did have Jacques Cousteau in the title. What person my age didn't watch his shows growing up. We had actually seen him grow too old and then tell his son to do the hard work as he spoke his broken English to fill out the shows. So I pick up the book and read the back and little review blurbs and still wasn't quite sure. I sit down and read a few pages and figure out it is light reading but Gil Adamson's style seems to lose me at first. The stories run together in descriptions of her eccentric family. They move from person to person as though we should already know them. After about 50 pages you know the characters or her family better but I wonder where the story is headed. Then I figure out that the book is strictly a story of her life and her oddball family. From the time you figure out the book, it flies. You look for the next story and how that person intertwined with her life. You realize that deep down the story is kind of sad since everyone concentrates on their life but is that really any different than most people today. In the end the book is quite a read. The book moves fast from her brother's birth until he becomes an older teen. Showing how the family has its own problems and how they deal with all the normal every day events and how Hazel sees all of these items and either takes them in or drowns them out. I highly recommend it for someone with a spare afternoon to read and then ultimately reflect on their own situation. I bet everyone has a couple of Hazel's family in their own.