November 28, 2020

Danford School

Center for learning

Sweet Sixteen Novel Summary

3 min read

Sweet Sixteen Description.

This novel is about a young girl who is about to reach her sixteen birthday. From the beginning of this novel, the main character, Aliya constantly reminds her father that she is not a child anymore, but a young adult. Her father, Mr. Bello does not always agree with her.

See Sweet Sixteen questions and answers

However, as she is approaching her sixteen (16) birthday, he is sitting up and taking notice of her and the changes she will start experiencing. The birthday card that was expected from him is replaced by a present and without any restriction letter, a page for each year she has lived.


The letter records the lessons he has always tried teaching her and the wisdom he has attempted to pass to her. The no-hold-barred letter gives answers to the burning questions she has been asking about life and sometimes shows through the cluelessness of parental units.


Aliya questions who she is and why she is; However, the wisdom of her father provides a guide on this journey of discovery. An engaging coming of age guide on life and love for the teenage girl who wants to understand the world.


Sweet Sixteen Summary.

Going through Bolaji Abdullahi’s Sweet Sixteen novel, you’ll discover that the protagonist, 16-year-old Aliya, whom her father refers to adoringly as ‘My First Lady,’ bombards her father with numerous questions, some of which threw her journalist father off balance.


One of those questions springs from teenage slangs her friends used. For example, Aliyu asked her father: “Okay Daddy, what does HAK and KOTL mean?,’’ Aliya asked. And when the father expressed his ignorance of the acronyms, Aliya for once, felt she knew something her journalist father don’t know: “HAK means Hugs and Kisses” while KOTL means “Kiss On The Lips”.


She surprised her father with the news that some students were caught on the school’s basketball court at night having “Šε×”, Mr. Bello was dumbfounded and almost fainted. ‘’But…how do you know all these?,’’ he asked almost in consternation, to which Aliya replied: ‘’Come on Daddy, everybody knows these things.”


This is the author, Bolaji Abdullahi’s first fictional work, although he has written extensively over the years on politics, policy, and development. Through this novel, Bolaji Abdullahi laid bare in an absorbing page-turner, murky truths, and forbidden issues in the ever-challenging world of teenagers and young adults in the 21st century.


Take note that this JAMB novel, Sweet Sixteen is divided into seven sections as listed below;


  • The Letter,
  • The Drive,
  • Work,
  • The Gandhi Test,
  • Dating,
  • Stereotype,
  • Beauty.

However, going through this novel, you’ll discover that Sweet Sixteen’s central focus is a series of conversations between Mr. Bello and her 16-year-old intelligent daughter who is ahead of her peers on the ‘facts of life.’


However, Nigerians may not fully support the notion of this book and its contents. The author believed that, just as Aliya had said in Sweet Sixteen, most teenagers are already aware of what adults seem to be hiding from them and are not comfortable discussing it around adults.


When writing the novel Sweet Sixteen, the author, Bolaji Abdullahi who was a former Nigerian Minister of Youths and Sports, among other previously held jobs, must have critically weighed the above positions before taking on a wide range of young adult topics ranging from bullying, dating, stereotype, ethics and s3x education, among others.


Through this novel, the author finds common ground to answer these young adults questions through a good ally, Aliya Bello, a teenager with a curious, fascinating and inquisitive mind and a devoted and responsible father.


Mr. Bello decided to take responsibility for the education of his daughter, including the tricky but very important aspect of educating her about s3x, what it is and why youths should not carelessly indulge in it.


Through the questions asked by Aliyu Bello, the Father answered these tricky questions and this result in quite a compelling and fascinating tale, loaded with morality and textured with rich lyrical prose and young adult lingo.


[You can download this summary on your smart phone below.]



From the storyline, you’ll discover that Aliyu comes from an upper-middle-class family, where she is provided with luxuriant meals, leisurely Saturday drives and her mother, Mrs. Bello, the nurse, often distant from father and daughter.


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