Because of Winn-Dixie ISBN: 9780744578294
Published by Walker, 2000
This author writes with lyrical lovliness. Her numinous southern United States is a place of humour and sadness, but it also contains hope and wisdom. Ten year old Opal has just moved to Naomi, Florida where her father, whom she calls 'the preacher', has become minister to the Open Arms Baptist Church. They live in the local trailor park. Opal is lonely, not only because she has not yet made friends, but because she yearns for her mother who left the family when Opal was only 3 and about whom she knows absolutely nothing. She encounters Winn-Dixie, a rather down-at-heel stray dog, in the local Winn-Dixie supermarket - hence the name - and most of Opal's new friendships and self-knowledge come about because of her dog. He is a lovable mutt who can smile, and he is her ticket to meeting Miss Franny Block, the local librarian, Glora Dump, the recluse whom some local lads believe to be a witch, and Otis, who runs the pet shop and is a little slow but has remarkable talents. She also meets and learns to enjoy children her own age. Winn-Dixie is also the reason that the preacher becomes able to tell Opal something about her mother and to help her lay the ghosts that have haunted her. She must accept that the ten things she has learned about her mum, among them that she drank too much, will be most of what she knows, and that she will probably never meet her. What she also learns, as do we, is that her life has untold riches because of her unusual but loving friends - and 'because of Winn-Dixie'. Simply superb - and very funny too.