Beacuse of Winn Dixie 5 ***** Great book for kids and adults
“There ain't no way you can hold onto something that wants to go, you understand? You can only love what you got while you got it.”
Because of Winn Dixie is a wonderful read. I am reading it for about the 3rd time. I am actually using for my in class character/guidance lessons for grades 1-3. Yes, I know it is recommended for ages 9 and up but who would not relate to this book.
The story centers around India "Opal", a 10 year old girl who lives with her father a preacher who has moved her to the fictional town of Naomi, Fl. Opal narrates the story and it is a delightful yet deep story of the importance of human interactions.
Opal is very alone at the beginning of the story until she finds and rescues a dog, Winn Dixie, from the Winn Dixie (a southern supermarket chain). "..Just about everything that happened to me that summer, happened because of Winn Dixie."
Opal's mother left her when she was three and she remembers nothing about her. She is a bright precocious but simply likable girl who begins to make friends and develop relationships in her new town. Her bond with Winn Dixie is just the beginning of the circle of friends she begins to weave around herself to help her cope with the loss of her mother and to create a sense of belonging. “I said, "you don't have any family and neither do I. I've got the preacher, of course. But I don't have a mama. I mean I have one, but I don't know where she is. She left when I was three years old. I can't hardly remember her. And I bet you don't remember your mama much either. So we're almost like orphans."
Opal becomes friends with the elderly libririan, "We could be friends," I said to Miss Franny. "I mean you and me and Winn-Dixie, we could all be friends. ‘Miss Franny smiled even bigger. 'Why, that would be grand,' she said, 'just grand." Ms. Franny tells her stories and checks her out books; she also helps her understand that everyone misses someone and has experienced some loss in life. She teaches her that one can wallow in despair or create beauty out of it.
'I thought about my mama. Thinking about her was the same as the hole you keep on feeling with your tongue after you lose a tooth." She told her about her great grandfather, "Littmus W. Block figured the world was a sorry affair and that it had enough ugly things in it and what he was going to do was concentrate on putting something sweet in it."
Opal discovers the rich and mothering type guidance in Gloria Dump, who talks to her and let her know that everyone has their own demons."You can't always judge people by the things they done. You got to judge them by what they are doing now." She learns in order to make friends and to become a better person she must step out of her comfort zone and interact with everyone even those who make her uncomfortable or angry.
The Preacher and Otis are similar in many ways, both have a passion about something but they are both withdrawn and scared by their own experiences. Opal describes her father who she refers to as the preacher, "Sometimes he reminded me of a turtle, hiding inside its shell, in there thinking about things and not ever sticking his head out into the world."
Otis runs the pet store and is quiet, afraid and terrified of interacting with others except by playing music for them. I love the simple yet complex nature of Otis."I ain't a dangerous man," Otis said, "if that's what you're thinking. I'm lonely. But I ain't dangerous."
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough, the lyrical phrasing of the words, the simple depth of the characters makes you fall in love with them. This book begs to be read aloud and again and again.