In Ken Saik’s well-crafted novella set in Canada, The Caretaker, a group of concerned locals and a savvy, unassuming man unite to try to stop an aggressive developer from converting a beloved area park into a high-rise condo complex.
In honor of his deceased grandfather, who bestowed property to the public, Steve Turphin promised to protect and care for “Sebastian’s Sanctuary,” a wildlife preserve in the heart of Aspen Grove. Many of the area residents, especially several seniors living in Steve’s high rise, where he’s the building caretaker, want to preserve this crown jewel of the park’s system. But local developer Walter Kohlborg schemes to construct an expansive condo complex on the property.
Although the area is legally protected from development, Kohlborg’s shady stance is that if approved, the project would help the economy and make the sanctuary a safer place; residents are concerned about a recent mugging and attack. In a second storyline, Steve offers to mentor the troubled teen involved in the mugging.
From social media campaigns and personal stories that reveal the locals’ love for the park to unscrupulous tactics and a voter referendum that could challenge the “forever clause” protecting the park from future development, Saik draws readers into this controversy. With short chapters, the story’s action moves at a steady pace. Saik presents characters of older and younger generations and illustrates the solid connections growing between them. This helps emphasize the narrative’s themes of community, preservation, and caring.
The book’s one caveat concerns the story’s finale. While the main issue is neatly resolved, the story wraps up quickly, without further interaction between the characters. Readers may wonder about the future of the central characters, in particular the friendships that have developed between the younger and older characters. Perhaps an epilogue, or sequel might be in order.
Nontheless, Saik presents a believable, contemporary storyline that should appeal to those who favor environmental preservation over commercial development.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.