Courage. Insane Courage.
This kid had it. This 8th grade boy struggling with the courage to give a girl in his class a heart shaped box of chocolates. We see him agonize over the decision to buy the gift. We see him change his mind over and over about how to present the gift to his classmate. We see him watch from a distance as the gift is opened and laughed at. And we see his heartbreak as he takes his seat in class in anticipation of what he calls "fifty whole minutes of his life."
Though the story doesn't end the way the reader wants, you can't help but root for this kid. The reader knows all too well that this happens. Feelings get hurt. Plans get derailed. People get disappointed. But, what the reader knows that this kid doesn't yet is that 8th grade is just a time, a period of time where courage, the courage this kid had, is what matters most. THAT is what will carry him into adulthood. There is hope and life in his courage and for that the reader can't help but be thrilled.