At nineteen, Ed Kennedy is a bit of a loser: he’s driving taxis for a living, his mother hates him, and his only socialization is several-times-a-week card games with Audrey, Ritchie, and Marv, none of whom are paragons of social virtue themselves. Then one day the mail comes and there’s a playing card, an ace, with three addresses written on it. At one house, there’s a teenager who needs the confidence to run in track meets like she runs alone every morning; at another, a lonely old woman who misses her husband, dead for thirty years; at the third, a woman is raped by her husband every night. And Ed has to make things better. And then there’s another card in the mail.
The writing is really excellent. It balanced the serious situations with the sweet ones, but manages to stay just about the sickly-sweet line. Just. I really enjoyed reading it, though at times I was disturbed by the unnecessary sadism of the person organizing all this, the person sending the cards. He sets Ed up to help other people, but he also sets Ed up to be hurt himself.
And then there was the end. When we finally find out who is behind all this.
When it gets painfully, painfully meta. I enjoyed the process of reading it, but the ending bugged me so much that I can’t quite look back on it fondly.