What, or rather who, she does care about is the young girl who lives next door, Cecile, who often comes to visit Alia. Cecile's mother, Suzanne, is a Jew although they are both French citizens, and Alia, who is often beset by visions of the future, fears for Suzanne and Cecile as the Nazis approach and Jews are more and more persecuted.
Although Alia is very promiscuous, her constant lover is Pedro, a handsome Spanish bullfighter - that is, until Suzanne's younger brother Josef, a musician and physicist, is able to make his way into Paris after escaping the Nazis. Alia fears Josef's arrival will spell doom for Suzanne and Cecile if Josef remains in Paris, but what she doesn't see is that she, herself, will come to love him.
Once the Nazis invade and occupy Paris, Alia finds herself under the dominance of a cruel Nazi commander named Knochen when Suzanne and Cecile's heritage come under his scrutiny. Alia will do whatever she must to protect the pair and Knochen ensures that she must do some horrific things. Since Pedro and Josef have fled Paris and joined the Resistance, keeping Suzanne and Cecile safe has become Alia's priority. Gone are the days when she would languish in her apartment with Pedro and her artistic friends, such as Edith Piaf, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Albert Camus. Now, every day is a fight for survival as food supplies wane and the Nazi regime tightens its death grip on French Jews, along with other races they deem sub-human. Alia must watch as people she cares for are viciously abused. While Pedro and Josef return to Paris and enlist Suzanne to help with the Resistance, Knochen has not given up his laser-focus on Suzanne and Cecile. Alia finds herself in a precarious situation with the people she loves in jeopardy and herself having to make impossible choices. Would it have been better for her to remain an angel and never experience the love and pain she must endure as a human, or will her angelic past offer a shred of hope for a miracle?
Broken is a very different book from anything Slatton has tackled previously, but it is still excellent in its own right. I love her post-apocalyptic After series, but I also loved her take on historical Florence in Immortal and her nerd romance, The Love of My (Other) Life. Broken has some incredibly graphic sex scenes and these may take some readers aback, but they are meant to shock, as well as explain Alia's selfishness, desperation and hopelessness after becoming a human. It took me a few chapters before the book really had its hooks into me, but Broken is incredible and, much like Immortal, had me in tears as I finished it. I loved how Slatton incorporated so many famous artists, writers and musicians of the time into Alia's daily life and I really never thought about these people being contemporaries and enduring the plight of the Nazi occupation in Paris. WWII and the Holocaust has always been a tragic yet fascinating topic to me and Broken looks at it from a different angle.
If you are a fan of Slatton's work, do yourself a favor and read Broken. It's a beautiful, heart-wrenching tale of love, loyalty, betrayal and defiance during one of the darkest times in man's history.