Markus and the Girls

Book review by
Kristen Breck, Common Sense Media
Markus and the Girls Book Poster Image
Funny story of young love is full of antics and heart.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The kids in the book put on the play, Romeo and Juliet, and as the characters learn their parts, readers are exposed to quotes and scenes from Shakespeare's play.

Positive Messages

The characters exhibit the qualities of good friends, as seen when Markus and Sigmund get into a fight but then tell each other how they feel and apologize. The four main characters form a boy/girl friendship club in which they decide that boys and girls can be just friends, give advice, and have fun.  Mons also shows good fatherly qualities when he openly communicates and is always there for Markus. Overall, the kids are sweet, smart, and funny, and the adults are helpful, honest, and earnest.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While Markus has sequential and numerous crushes on girls, his focus is on romance and affection rather than kissing or sexuality.  Markus is capricious about his affections, but he knows how to be a good friend to both boys and girls. His dad and the teachers in Markus' life are endearingly human, as they exhibit their own frail yet lovable ways.


Mona slaps Sigmund.


Sigmund teases Markus about all his crushes and suggests "castration" as a cure.  When Markus is angry, he imagines Sigmund and Ellen Christine kissing and maybe getting pregnant.  The word "nymphomaniac" is used.  Sigmund and Mona kiss.  There is some "acting" kissing in play practice and in the play.  One boy says, "Mona has breasts almost as nice as Madonna's."


"Damn," "bastard," "hell," "asshole," "Goddamned" are all uttered.


Leonardo DiCaprio is mentioned a lot, Donald Duck, Madonna, Anthony Hopkins. The characters have posters of Mel Gibson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Brad Pitt.  The movie Legends of the Fall is mentioned adoringly several times.  McDonalds is also mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Markus' dad smokes one cigarette and he and his date drink champagne.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while the action of this book is all about Markus trying to get the girl, his whimsical affections are based in romance rather than sex. Markus' mom died when he was very young and he lives with his father, but the absence of the mother is not an issue in the story. Originally published in Norway and translated into English, the Norwegian publisher suggests an age range of 14-17 years, but the story is about middle school kids and is appropriate for that age group.

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What's the story?

Markus is 13 years old and seems to fall in love with a different girl every week. His best friend, Sigmund, always has a good idea about what to do, until Markus and Sigmund fall for the same girl. After the two boys resolve that argument, they set about devising various plans to get Markus his girl. Eventually, Markus and Sigmund, with their best girl buddies, form a friendship club and come up with the best idea yet: to stage a play (Romeo and Juliet) so that Alexandra (as Juliet) will fall in love with Markus (as Romeo). In the end, Markus ponders the quote, "Who can doubt...whether we are in this world for anything else than to love?" and he feels certain that food, books, good movies and friendship are all good reasons to be in this world, as well.

Is it any good?

This book is charming and delightful with a cast of hilarious yet endearing characters.  There are many laugh-out-loud moments and situations which readers will either relate to or hope not to experience in their own lives.  The friendships among the characters are deep and true, showing both complexity and simplicity.  The Romeo and Juliet play is funny, yet some readers may find the Shakespeare quotes and scenes a bit lengthy. There are good plot twists to keep the reader guessing outcomes, and in the end, readers will feel hopeful and happy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about crushes.  Why do kids change their "crush" so often?  Have you and a friend ever had a crush on the same person?  Did it challenge your friendship?  How did you resolve it?  Do you think movies (like Legends of the Fall in this story) depict realistic love stories?

  • Families can talk about friendship.  Do you have a good friend of the opposite gender?  How did you become friends? Have you ever been in an argument with a friend?  How did you resolve it?  Did you ever develop a crush on a friend?

  • Families can talk about the story setting.  Could you tell the story took place in Norway?  Could it have taken place anywhere?  Did you notice any language that was different?  Do you think the kids in this book were similar to kids at your school?

Book details

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