Summary of “Sweet Sixteen”, a novel for JAMB exam

Sweet Sixteen is one of the recommended novels for JAMB UTME exam. Although JAMB can recommend different novels, it is one of the novels used in the recent UTME exams.

Another novel that was used the previous JAMB exams is “In Dependence“. You can as well read mock questions and answers from In Dependence.

In this post is a summary of the novel “Sweet Sixteen”.

It is important to understand that this summary and review is not meant to replace the need of the entire novel. You get to appreciate the novel more and gain a deeper understanding of it when you grab a copy of it and read the book thoroughly.

TIP: Also see Questions and Answers from Sweet Sixteen.

Description of the Novel “Sweet Sixteen”

Novel: Sweet Sixteen

Book/novel title: Sweet Sixteen

Author: Bolaji Abdullahi

Genre: Fiction

Format: Paperback

Dimension: 5.5 X 8.5

Number of Pages: 157

Publication Year: February 1, 2017

Publisher: TND Press Limited

ISBN: 978-978-546-375-0

Available at: Bookstores nationwide.

Summary of “Sweet Sixteen”

Sweet Sixteen features a young girl Aliya who constantly reminds her father that she is not a child anymore, but “a young adult.”

Unfortunately, he does not always agree with her.

As Aliya is turning 16 (years old), the father is being much aware and taking notice. The expected birthday card from his father is now replaced by a present and no holds barred letter – a page for each year she has lived.

The pages chronicle the lessons he has tried to teach his daughter, Aliya; and the wisdom he has attempted to pass on to her.

It unburdens the burning questions she has about life and sometimes shows through the cluelessness of parental units.

Aliya questions who she is and why she is; with her father as a guide on this journey of discovery.

Download Sweet Sixteen PDF

Before you continue with the review of the novel, note that you can grab a copy of it. If interested, get a copy of Sweet Sixteen.

Review of “Sweet Sixteen”

In the novel Sweet Sixteen (by Bolaji Abdullahi), the protagonist, a 16-year-old Aliya, whom her father refers to adoringly as “My First Lady,” is the curious type of girl. She often asks her father questions, some of which threw her journalist father off balance.

Aliya once asked her dad, Mr Bello: “Okay Daddy, what does HAK and KOTL mean?” And when the father expressed his ignorance of the acronyms, Aliya gleefully answered her own questions; “HAK means ‘Hugs and Kisses’ while KOTL means ‘Kiss On The Lips'”.

As a young girl also added that some students were caught on the school’s basketball court at night having ‘’53X’ (s3x), the father almost fainted.

Out of amazement the father asked her, ‘’But…how do you know all these?,’’ he asked almost in consternation, to which Aliya replied: ‘’Come on Daddy, everybody knows these things.”

In this fictional work, Bolaji Abdullahi, who has written extensively over the years on politics, policy and development, laid bare in an absorbing page-turner, murky truths and hitherto unspeakable issues in the ever-challenging world of teenagers and young adults.

The novel is divided into seven sections:

  1. The Letter,
  2. The Drive,
  3. Work,
  4. The Gandhi Test,
  5. Dating,
  6. Stereotype
  7. Beauty,

The central focus of Sweet Sixteen is a series of conversations between Mr Bello (Aliya’s father) and Aliya, her 16-year-old intelligent and precocious daughter on the ‘facts of life.’

As the book’s editor, Molara Wood, referred to it on the book’s cover jacket as the novel is about ‘’everything a teenage girl ever wanted to know but was afraid to ask.”

In another part of the book’s blurb, this fictional art of Mr Bello is referred to it as ‘’a parenting manual and a guidebook for young adults.”

However, sociologists, educationists and policy-makers, as well as parents and guardians, are still divided on how much ‘sensitive’ some of the information contained in the novel is, especially on s3x education, to be divulged to teenagers.

Take for example, in a recent UK survey, more than half of parents do not think s3x education should be taught to children at school.

According to a poll by baby product website baby ; Most people think it is inappropriate to teach children about s3x, whilst others think it should be a parent’s choice to inform their own children.

But, on the other side of the coin, it is believed that, just as Aliya put it in Sweet Sixteen, most teenagers are already aware of what adults seem to be hiding from them.

According to one expert; ‘’Comprehensive s3x education doesn’t encourage kids to have s3x.

And just like abstinence-only programmes, good comprehensive programmes teach students that abstinence is the only surefire way to prevent pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).

The difference, however, is that these programs also give students realistic and factual information about the safety of various s3xual practices, and how to improve the odds.’’

One can assume though that Sweet Sixteen author, Bolaji Abdullahi, is a former Nigerian Minister of Youths and Sports, among other previous jobs, must have critically weighed the above positions before taking on a smorgasbord of young adult topics that ranged from bullying, dating, stereotype, ethics and s3x education, among others.

In pushing out his themes, the author finds a good ally in Aliya Bello, a teenager with a curious, fascinating and inquisitive mind and a devoted as well as a responsible father.

Mr Bello, as expected of any good father, took responsibility for the education of his daughter, including the tricky but very important aspect of s3x education.

Aliya is, therefore, fortunate to have a father who does not leave her to struggle alone with the “demons” that usually torment teenagers when awash in a flood of hormones and the pull of peer pressure.

The result of this piece from Bolaji Abdullahi is a compelling tale, loaded with morality and textured with rich lyrical prose and young adult lingo…story-story, my bestie, OMG among others.

The storyline has an upper-middle-class flavour with luxuriant meals, leisurely Saturday drives and a Mrs Bello, the nurse, often distant from father and daughter.

But in the hinterland between fact and fiction, the author is able to deftly sift the core values from the emotion, the treat from the trick and for this, parents and guardians will forever be grateful.

Look out for questions and answers from the novel Sweet Sixteen in my subsequent post


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