Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Because Of Winn-Dixie

by Kate DiCamillo

India Opal Buloni (DiCamillo has a fondness for zany names), a preacher’s daughter newly arrived in town, has trouble dealing with the empty space left by her mother, who left the family seven years previously. One day she adopts a stray dog she finds making trouble in a Winn-Dixie. Having an overly attached, inquisitive dog puts India in new situations which lead her to meet some interesting townsfolk, like the good-natured old librarian with plenty of stories, a woman rumored to be a witch (another DiCamillan name: Gloria Dump), and a guitar-playing ex-con pet store clerk. Getting to know these complex characters helps India realize that the “perfect” girl she views from a distance is also dealing with loss and sadness, and the “bullies” she verbally spars with are basically friendly kids.

Deceptively lightweight, it’s a book that deals with deep, important feelings – friendship, loss, hope, acceptance, and new beginnings – in DiCamillo’s usual minimalist prose. I enjoyed this book a great deal and plan on reading it to my class; this is a story of coping with life, not wishing for fairy-tale endings. In the book’s only trace of non-realism, there’s a fictional candy, Littmus Lozenges, which taste sweet but also deeply melancholy for those who have experienced loss. An apt description of the book itself.

five stars

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