JAMB 2020: A Review of the Novel – Sweet Sixteen
The novel sweet sixteen is a long conversation between a teenage girl called Aliya. And her father, Mr. Bello who is a journalist and a moralist. She often argue with his father that she is not a child but a young adult. But her Father would always tell her that she should not mind her body size ,and she is still a child. “Aliya don’t be deceived by your size , you are still a child and you should enjoy being a child”.
The novel sweet sixteen mirrors all manners of societal illness.(wrongs) obtainable in times like this. The issues of religious stereotype, moral decadence, Academic distractions, emotional distractions, excessive killings, infatuation, lust, kidnapping e.t.c. while it goes ahead to portray moral values upon the teenagers and the coming generation.
The novel sweet sixteen is derived from Aliya a young girl of sixteen , an only child of her parents , the Apple of her father’s eyes. According to Aliya she says ” I read a book titled sweet sixteen which made me realise that at sixteen , one is no longer a child but a young adult.”(page 1 ) she is often called first lady since her birth because her father loves her dearly.
Aliya is the metaphorical representation of teenage girls in there sixteen, sixteen is a critical age with much curiosity, experiment, exuberance, enthusiasm,liveliness. An age one sees biological changes in his or her life. Aliya, for instance, noticed her menstruation. Mr. Bellowarns her not to play with boys at this age and she should remain focus because there is time for everything. To avoid going to the negative path , Mr.Bello warns Aliya to stay away from a boy or girl relationship; hence her age often falls into infatuation which they can mistake as LOVE. And then regret tomorrow. “At your age relationship between a boy and a girl is mostly ruled by one thing infatuation …( Page 32)” says Mr.Bello. He tells her the danger of keeping a boyfriend relationship at this tender age of sixteen. According to Mr. Bello, relationship is never a bad thing but what goes around the relationship determines. Mr. Bello goes on to encourage her to study her books and forget anything distraction.
However, her Father’s teachings and advise propels her to dislike Bobo and then threw away Bobo gift of teddy. Which Bobo gave her on a valentine day as a gift to his girlfriend hence other boys are giving out gift to their girl friend. Bobo left to Ireland with his parents without telling Aliya, she felt lonely and then thought she was abandoned. Her father’s teachings opens her inner eyes more and more when he tells her that boys loves dumb girls.those kind of girls who wants to have sex with a boy. A dumb girl is one who feels the need to belong; a girl who thinks she needs to have sex with a boy to prove that she loves him…..(page 6) A dumb girl is always manipulated or exploited and Aliya’s father warns her from being such a nasty dumb girl.
In curiosity, Aliya goes along way to read the cosmopolitan magazines dropped by Auntie Molara in the room which talks about sex.
Mr.Bello tries to inculcate moral values into Aliya and to be conscious of whom she is at the same time telling her to be humble , Kind to others and she must never feels inferior before anybody.
Mr.Bello’s love for her daughter Aliya is See in the gift he gives to Aliya during her birthday although he never like to celebrate birthday because to him birthday is not an achievement but he must offer her , his gift on her sixteen birthday , he offers her a birthday card that is written happy sweet sixteen and a spiral bound document, an inscription of a book titled “letter to my Daughter” which is a kind of mirror and a compare to Aliya , because his father taught that human beings are like train which can get derailed.
…. like a train moving in a particular direction. No matter how long the journey was the train would eventually get to it’s destination as long as it’s stayed on the tracks.
However, once it derailed , that would be the end of its journey .(Page 34).
In conclusion, sweet sixteen is a long conversation between a daughter (Aliya) and her father (Mr. Bello) Which tries to depicts the current issue of prevalent in today’s modern society. The issue of infatuation among the teenagers , fear of the unknown , moral decadence found among the teenagers at the same time the writer calls and rings for moral consciousness, and urges the teenagers to do the right thing at the right time, because education is the only way they can escape poverty at the same time education is the key and power.
In support of this, Mr. Bello says;
” I believe if those girls are able to get good education, they too can climb out of poverty and even become important people in the future” (page 12)