I was keen to read this book based on the critical reviews and initially was not disappointed quickly getting wrapped up in the story. Great premise for a story and great dialogue make this to a large part an entertaining read. I suspect that overall liking of the book relates to some extent on how much you like the two main characters - and like some others I did not ever get to like Dex that much. Em obviously sees something in him that sustains their friendship, but apart from his joy at fatherhood and paternal devotion, there is little that he does to demonstrate what that is. The idea of telling a story by focussing on one day a year is great, allowing us to interpolate between the points, but because some major events are ore only described in retrospect. they perhaps lack the impact and emotional intensity to really show their effect on the characters. Maybe it is part of the point of the story, but to me the characters never seem that happy, even at the times when you would expect they really should be.
One thing that detracted on the story for me was that to me none of the secondary characters seemed that likable, and although some were portrayed in some detail, and this is ultimately Em and Dex's story, you don't get the impression that these other characters have a story too. (Although Ian and Sylvie both crop up sympathetically later in the story, it is hard to care for them earlier on.) The Maddy character is perhaps deliberately a very minor character, but it was disappointing to me that while the story seems to cover a number of unsatisfactory compromises and decisions made by the lead characters, portrayed as it is, Maddy's part just seems to be one more compromise. (Again maybe that was the point?)
While the story is largely chronological, I could not see the point of the flashbacks at the end, apart from perhaps to add poignancy to the later events. Having largely enjoyed the first half of the book, it seemed to drift off later on, and I found the last few chapters fairly unsatisfactory. So a good attempt, amusing in places, but flawed overall. (Enjoyed Starter for 10 much more)