A Naive Heart is a story about secrets and betrayal. It's a story that I tried to enjoy, hoping against hope for a happy ending, but ultimately came away from feeling dirty, hurt, and offended. It's a story that's said to be based on a true story, but as to whether or not that is Sarah Becks own story, I don't think I care to know.
Early on, I wondered if maybe it's because I identify far better with John than Sarah that I had such an issue with this. When he struggles so hard to keep his secret, I share his fear of what discovery might mean to his marriage. When he tries to explain, revealing a piece of himself at a time, I know it's a desperate attempt to sort of test the waters and see how open his wife might be. When he keeps trying to stop, to change himself for her, I emphasize with the fact that he has the best of intentions, even as I know wanting to change isn't enough. I kept waiting for them to come to an understanding, for Sarah to find a way to either deal with his gender/sexuality issues, or to even find a way to share that aspect of his life.
I know, first hand, how damaging secrets can be, but I also know that it's often the act of keeping a secret that hurts the most, rather than the secret itself. Sadly, that's not the case here.
John is, by no means, a perfect husband. He annoyed me at times and made me want to slap him for being so rude, so stupid, and so inconsiderate. I shared his fears and his pain, and understood where his walls came from, but that doesn't make them any easier to accept. Sarah, on the other hand, I could find no common ground with. She seemed to be somebody who made up her mind long ago, and who was really only looking for an excuse to get out of the relationship. She's just as rude and inconsiderate, but often crude as well, hurling epithets and accusations at him rather than trying to understand.
"Forgiveness and acceptance were not an option for me. He sat there before me without apparent shame or remorse, almost smug and complacent at the final disclosure of his real secret and the real him. The sight of him sickened me, the thought that I had fallen in love with him and had wanted him sexually, sickened me."
I'll admit it, I cursed aloud upon reading that part. Whatever lingering hope I might have had for the story to turn around and head towards the light was dashed. Here I'd been expecting all along that the romance would be rekindled and all hurts soothed away when, in fact, I'd just wasted my time wallowing in the hatred and disgust, on the way to watching a woman justify her ultimate infidelity - a betrayal far deeper, for me, than any secret John might have kept.
If there was A Naive Heart anywhere in this experience, it was mine. I'm sorry, but this is one I cannot even grudgingly recommend, not even as a cautionary tale. Ugh.