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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 211

Because of Winn-Dixie is a story about a girl and her dog and about the search for what really matters in life. It is also a story about stories—stories of loss, love, and humor; stories about holding on and letting go. In the steamy humidity of small-town Florida, India Opal Buloni pursues her journey toward friendship, love, understanding, and acceptance.

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New in town, Opal finds herself dwelling on her struggle to understand and accept why her mother left her, questioning why her father will not talk about her mother, and needing desperately to find a friend. She first finds this friendship in a dog she deems a "less fortunate" and names him after the place where they meet—Winn-Dixie. Because of this loveable canine's charm and devotion, Opal soon meets a series of other lonely town characters, each on his or her own journey to learn what the loner Gloria Dump names "the most important thing."

Winn-Dixie wraps his love around each character, brings Opal to them, and, with Opal's help, brings them all together. As a result, Opal learns valuable lessons about life and love, but it takes both heartbreak and painful confrontation to open the pathway toward healing before Opal discovers that letting go does not mean losing.

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