Book review – Measuring Up, by Jack Wassermann

A review of Jack Wassermann's book Measuring Up.

Like his characters in Measuring Up, Jack Wassermann knows what living in Palestine was like and also how it feels to lose a parent. He weaves his personal experiences and historical events into the story of David and Shoshana, two children who spend their lives trying to figure out their relationship.

David and Shoshana met in a quiet village in Palestine when he was eight and she was nearly six. They are unaware of it at their very young ages, but they are in love. For years, they grow up together as the best of friends, but over time, the two go their separate ways.

Shoshana heads to Jerusalem, where she learns the art of the Betzalel silversmith and takes on a long list of clients. As she becomes more involved in her work, she accepts the fact that David is simply a part of her past and holds little meaning now.

Far on the other side of the world, David and his mother have relocated in New York, where he is a celebrated musician.

Their worlds collide when David arrives in Jerusalem with the touring Leonard Bernstein to solo in the Prokofiev First Violin Concerto. When they meet after the concert, it is as if they have never spent a moment apart. It seems as though the two are in store for a happy life together, but trauma from David’s childhood, including the death of his parents, has left him damaged.

David’s erratic behaviour spins Shoshana’s feelings into a tangle of adoration and fear until he disappears. Completely devastated by the separation, elderly Shoshana sets out to find him.

“In addition to watching a troubled romantic relationship play out over a lifetime, readers gain insight to how British-controlled Palestine evolved into Israel,” Wassermann says.

With its elements of Palestine’s history and highly-valued Yemenite jewelry, Measuring Up brings more than a romantic story to the reader.

However, Wassmermann’s story of love has a big lesson for readers. He believes that the story of Shoshana and David shows readers that sometimes even the greatest love requires individuals to face their greatest fears.

Born in Duesseldorf, Germany, Wassermann has lived in Palestine and the United States, before finally settling in Vancouver. He has been married to his wife for 61 years, and they have one daughter, two grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. He has a master’s in musicology.