One summer’s day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries – and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dates to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie. (taken from Amazon)
Age when first read – 11
Importance – Winn-Dixie came out the year I started at high school. I was, I remember, excited and nervous to be moving up into a bigger school. My school experiences were not the best, in fact, I have blocked most of my experiences there from my mind. I was friendless for the most part, for five of my seven years there. Bullied for being different, ignored for being weird and socially inadequate to navigate the social standings. I was very lonely and very confused to why I was unable to make friends and unable to gain the happiness that I saw all around me. Winn-Dixie was a lifeline. A book about a lonely girl who finds a dog who happens to help her with all her problems, you can see why I would be delighted to read the book. I did have a dog at the time, Sally, a Border Terrier but she was more Mum’s dog than the families – despite the fact that I picked her out.
I connected with Winn-Dixie so strongly that it became an imaginary world for me. In it I could pretend that I owned Winn-Dixie and that the dog helped me with my problems as it had helped Opal. I understood Opal’s willingness to allow Winn-Dixie to guide her and enjoyed seeing her world open and become bigger. It is still a story that remains close to my heart.
What was learnt – At the time I mostly felt saddened that while Opal was able to work through her problems and come out the other end to a brighter world, I was still stuck in the dark, struggling to understand what was going on around me. However, this book did teach me to look out for the good moments and to seize the opportunities that were given to me. I became more open to strangers and decided I would be kind to everyone – or at least neutral – in the hopes of gaining those sought after friendships.
Reading as an adult – As an adult, I see more deeply how this book became so important to me. Social interactions are still something I struggle with (greatly) but I have moved away from the total confusion and darkness of my school years and into the more calm and understanding adult years. I still read Winn-Dixie with fond memories, I still have that child inside of me who is lonely and sad but I read about Winn-Dixie now and am reminded of the good in life and that ultimately things do get better in the long-run.
Overall Rating -10