This book is one of my all time favorites, and has recently come out as a movie directed by Rob Reiner--fantastic! There are a million reasons why I love this book, but two in particular.
First of all, the book is told from both a boy's and a girl's perspective. And both Julie Baker's and Bryce Loski's perspectives are so organic and equally delightful that you can't help but love them both, even though Bryce is a pretty big jerk through most of the book. He's a funny jerk, and that makes him likable.
Secondly, the book's message is profound and one that I think kids in those puppy love years really need to learn in order to, one day, become happy adults in happy relationships. It's the idea that there is much more to a person than how beautiful their eyes are, or how dumpy their yard looks. Being a girl who grew up in a dumpy yard, I was totally feeling Julie Baker's humiliation when Bryce brings it to her attention. And yet, I was equally with her, when she made the heart-rending, yet liberating realization that Bryce Loski wasn't greater than the sum of his parts.
I won't give away much more of the book then to say that it's a very funny, very heartwarming love story with a fantastic message, and one of the best I've ever read.
P.S. The movie is equally delightful in so many ways, but I'd read the book first to really fall in love with Van Draanen's characters.