In this memoir, Jack and Rochelle Sutin recount their struggle to survive the Holocaust as part of a band of partisans in the forests of Poland. Told through their son Lawrence, the book brings alive the reality of months spent hidden in a dank underground bunker unaware of the outside world. Jack and Rochelle is more than just an account of stark survival, however. It is also the tale of an almost impossible love affair that has lasted more than fifty years, and an eloquent reminder that history is made up of the often deeply moving details of individual lives.
"Told by a husband and wife who became lovers while living as partisans in the Nalibocka Forest, [this] is a memoir in which there is no sentimentalizing, and no striking of heroic poses even when they might be justified . . . Jack and Rochelle remained with the [partisan] group until the Russian liberation in 1944 . . . Their son, Lawrence Sutin, who has contributed a cogent and moving afterword on the subject of survivors' children, has assembled his parents' story from numerous interviews, and he tells us that they checked every word [and] determined that [Jack and Rochelle is] an accurate account of their lives . . . Faithful inclusiveness, combined with a depth of feeling never minimized and never paraded, makes this strong, honest, affecting book a valuable addition to Holocaust literature."—The New York Times Book Review
"A story of heroism and of touching romance in a time of fear and danger . . . It offers a unique perspective on the Holocaust, one that captures its horror without missing the central characters' strength, courage, and passion."—USA Today
"Lawrence Sutin's Jack and Rochelle is a powerful and moving account of how his parents fell in love in the midst of their struggle to survive the Holocaust as part of a band of partisans in the forests of Poland . . . Jack and Rochelle tells a beautiful and compelling personal story in a way that gives us a much deeper appreciation of the complexities faced by Jews trying to navigate among German, Polish, and Russian anti-Semites."—Michael Lerner, Tikkun
"Jack and Rochelle Sutin take turns narrating their harrowing story of the Holocaust, edited by their son, Larry, the author of Divine Invasions: The Life of Philip K. Dick. The couple first met briefly at a school dance in Stolpce, Poland, and then again in the winter of 1942-43 in a woods after making separate escapes from Nazi ghetto labor camps. In the woods they joined a Jewish partisan group, lived in inhuman conditions, and fell in love. German troops, Polish police, and Russian partisans—who hated the Jews—all made their survival arduous. In the summer of 1943, they joined a much larger partisan group (about 300 fellow Jews), and that August the Germans sent 20,000 troops into the forest to put down the resistance. Jack and Rochelle escaped into the swamps and were eventually liberated by Russian forces. The story has a happy ending; the Sutins were married and in 1949 emigrated to the U.S."—George Cohen, Booklist
"Sutin crafted this Holocaust account from a series of interviews he conducted with his parents. Narrating alternately, Jack and Rochelle vividly describe how they, as Polish Jews, fled separately in 1942 from their respective ghettos, where they had been relocated by the Germans. Each hid in the woods; and, after harrowing encounters with anti-Semitic escaping Russian soldiers, Rochelle joined Jack's group of Jewish partisans. Although mere acquaintances before the outbreak of war, Jack and Rochelle became lovers and together fought in the resistance movement, enduring near-starvation, disease and the constant threat of capture by Germans and Poles. After the war, the Sutins married and emigrated to the U.S."—Publishers Weekly