“Lanesha's relatives don't want her because she is different. But she doesn't need her fancy uptown relatives, because Mama Ya-Ya has taken care of her ever since her mother died giving birth to her. Lanesha is different because she can see odd things that other people don't like signs and ghosts. The ghosts don't bother her because she ignores them, much the way the other kids at school ignore her. It hurts to be ignored, but it's better than the teasing she usually has to endure from her classmates.
Lanesha was born with a caul over her face, and with odd, green eyes, flecked with yellow. Because of her appearance and superstitions , the other kids tease her and call her names. But Lanesha gets enough love from Mama Ya-Ya, who teaches her to pay attention to the signs, and to be strong.
Together they live in a small house in New Orleans's Ninth Ward. It's a tight-knit community. There are still a few who believe in the old traditions from Africa, and who respect Mama Ya-Ya for her skills as a midwife, healer and for her visions and wisdom. Mama Ya-Ya has a vision of a terrible storm, and sends Lanesha to the store for supplies before the weatherman even has a hint of trouble brewing.
But even as Lanesha prepares their home for the storm, which the weatherman finally reports as Hurricane Katrina, Mama Ya-Ya is still very distressed by her visions. Lanesha has to draw on all the love and strength Mama Ya-Ya have given her in order to help them both survive the storm.