Please welcome my fellow Clean Reads author Katy Newton Naas! She’s here to celebrate the release of her new YA novel, Healing Rain.
Some people just naturally seem to have it all. Until five months ago, sixteen-year-old Rain Sawyer was one of those people. She had the perfect life, with a loving, wealthy family and a strong Christian faith, complete with popularity, sports, clubs, and good grades.
When one tragic incident shatters everything Rain thought she knew, she finds herself five hours away, starting over in a small town very different from her glamorous big-city life.
Armed with a different outlook on life – one that no longer includes her faith – she struggles to create a new identity for herself. Determined to keep her dark past as secret, she navigates through a new school year, a new town, and new relationships while trying to figure out who she wants to be.
The smell of blood – sickeningly thick, fresh blood – filled my nostrils before I ever opened the door. I didn’t recognize that smell at first; I had never encountered that much blood in one place before. But I knew that the smell was off, somehow. The room usually smelled just like my dad – a mixture of pine trees and cologne, a combination of aromas that I had never quite understood but they belonged to him. I knocked, but no one answered. Cautiously, I pushed open the door. “Dad?” I whispered as I entered.
That’s when I saw his legs. His signature khaki pants and brown loafers stuck out from behind his desk. He was on the ground and didn’t move when I said his name, didn’t even twitch as I opened the door and walked inside. “Dad!” I called again, louder this time.
Oh no, he’s had a heart attack, I thought. I rushed over to the desk to see his face. But what I saw stopped me in my tracks like a deer in headlights.
I was frozen. My brain screamed at my body to move, to get away from the sight, but my feet were glued to the floor. My arms and legs suddenly felt like sandbags, and I collapsed.
This is not my dad. There was no face, no way to identify him for sure. But it was him. I knew the shape of his body, the clothes he wore. But the pool of blood under his neck took my breath away.
Who did this? Who did this to my father? I heard violent, blood-curdling screams, which I quickly realized were coming from me. I pleaded for help, still unable to get up off the ground, but it was useless. No one else was home.
Or was someone else in the house? My heart stopped beating as I considered this. Someone had broken in, had murdered my father in cold blood. Maybe I was next. Maybe my whole family was next. At that point, I almost wished for it. Death would be a welcome release from the idea of losing my dad, the man I admired most in the world. My funny, loving, attentive, adoring father. My best friend. And now he was gone.
And that’s when I saw it. The gun. The murder weapon that was used to kill my father was still lying on the scene. I stared at it, too shocked to cry or get scared or have any of the other normal reactions I should have had.
My mind was racing but remained blank. I had to get up, had to call for help. Move, I commanded my feet. Get up and go call 9‑1‑1. Tell them there’s been a murder, get the police to catch whoever did this and make them pay.
And that’s when my brain began to truly process the scene. The gun – the murder weapon – was in my dad’s own hand. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. And then the tears came, slowly at first before gushing out of my eyes until I couldn’t see straight anymore. I curled my legs up to my chest and hugged them, putting my head down on my knees as my shoulders shook uncontrollably. Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
I forced myself to look back at my dad one last time, just to make sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. He couldn’t have done this. He couldn’t have.
I looked up toward the sky and asked one simple question: Why?
About the Author
Katy Newton Naas currently teaches middle school reading and high school English in southern Illinois, as well as children’s church. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a bachelor’s degree in English Education and a master’s degree in Reading and Language Studies. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband, her young son, Aven, and her four-legged sons, Shakespeare and Poe.
From a young age, Katy was always an avid reader and writer with a big imagination. Though she continues to grow older, her true literature love is and has always been young adult fiction. She loves creating both realistic and futuristic stories about teenagers, and feels so fortunate to get to work with them every day as a teacher.