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Essence LaFontaine and Grace Woodson don't know each other, but soon Hurricane Katrina will blow into their lives, forcing them together into a different kind of storm-a storm swirling with the winds of bigotry and prejudice. The hurricane strikes with a fury and although sisters Essence and Chardonnai are rescued, their grandmother Mimmi stays behind with their skinny poodle, George. After terrifying hours in the Superdome they board a bus for the Houston Astrodome along with other victims of Hurricane Katrina, including a man named Harold, who Essence strongly suspects is her long-lost father. After Grace is suspended from St. Catherine's for her disobedient behavior, she accompanies her father, a psychologist, to the Astrodome to help with the evacuees. She sees before her the lessons of her required reading, To Kill a Mockingbird, and at a loss as to what to do, she begins to read the book aloud to a tattered group including Essence and her new family of fellow survivors. With the city of New Orleans devastated, the Woodson family allows Essence and Chardonnai to live with them and both girls begin school at St. Catherine's. But, like a hurricane, trouble is brewing. This is the story of two girls from completely different walks of life and their journey to bring about a healing that will change their lives forever.