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Literature / Cookie

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Cookie is a children’s novel by Jacqueline Wilson, first published in 2008.

It revolves around the attempts of the title character, young Beauty "Cookie" Cookson and her mother Dilly to find happiness – including baking cookies together – in the face of abusive behavior from Beauty’s controlling father, Gerry.

Contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Throughout the first half of the novel, there’s a subplot involving Gerry possibly losing a lot of money or even having to go to prison due to bribery. However, by the second half, it’s barely even mentioned. This is possibly justified in that Beauty (who’s the narrator) and Dilly have left Gerry by this point and neither of them particularly cares where he ends up due to his horrible treatment of them.
  • Abusive Parents: Gerry is a terrible father to Beauty, constantly putting her down and trying to control her. It’s implied that Dilly’s mother wasn’t particularly nice to her either.
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  • Affectionate Nickname: Dilly (which she prefers over Dilys). Cookie or Cookie Girl for Beauty Cookson.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Gerry is implied to be much older than Dilly; she was barely out of her teens when they married, whereas he went through two marriages before her, and all three of Beauty's half-brothers are fully-grown.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: With the exception of Rhona, all of Beauty’s classmates either ignore her or mock her.
  • Alpha Bitch: Skye is a primary school example.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Gerry to Beauty. It is Played for Drama, as Gerry’s actions genuinely hurt and humiliate Beauty and give her bullies even more ammunition against her. Beauty doesn’t dare call her dad out on it, because of his Hair-Trigger Temper.
  • Amicable Exes: Played with in the case of Gerry and his first wife Avril. He got a house for her on one of his estates, indicating they are at least on speaking terms. However, it is stated that, despite being financially successful, Gerry hates giving money to his previous two wives and his three sons, the latter of whom he actually calls "lazy".
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  • Animal Motif: Rabbits. Beauty's favourite animal is the rabbit; her favourite television show is called Sam and Lily in the Rabbit Hutch, she often includes rabbits in her art and dreams of owning one herself. In fact, Beauty asking her dad if she could have a pet one early in the story gives us the first glimpse of what Gerry is like when he goes on a rant at her. Later, Gerry being indirectly (or possibly directly) responsible for the death of Beauty's rabbit Birthday proves to be the event that leads to Beauty and Dilly leaving him. Beauty and Dilly visit a seaside town called Rabbit Cove, which (you guessed it) has cliffs shaped like a rabbit's ears and like it so much they decide to stay. In the end, Dilly begins making cookies shaped like rabbits, which prove to be extremely popular to the point where Beauty is invited onto a TV show to make the cookies and possibly advertise them in the hopes of turning it into a legitimate business.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Implied. Gerry deliberately lets Beauty’s pet rabbit out of its hutch the same day she got it, uncaring of the fact that it could easily be run over, die of starvation, or be killed by a wild animal. It’s later found decapitated, and Dilly and Beauty are led to believe that a fox tore the rabbit's head off. Gerry denies killing the rabbit directly, but some readers still believe that this was exactly what he did. It is never made clear what actually happened, but the rabbit's death is Gerry's fault either way.
  • Bait the Dog: Early in the story, Gerry makes an effort to come up to see Beauty after ranting at her and apologises, giving the excuse that he is stressed at work. However, he fails to acknowledge that he is in the wrong, and becomes increasingly more abusive over the course of the story.
  • Beautiful All Along: Contrary to Gerry's and Skye's assertions, Beauty is not "ugly"; she is merely less conventionally attractive compared to Dilly. In fact, Beauty is shown to be much better-looking when dressed in casual hairstyles and tasteful clothes that are not necessarily expensive. It is made clear that Beauty's supposed "ugliness" exists only in Gerry's and Skye's heads.
  • Benevolent Boss: Mike proves to be one to Dilly, being friendly, encouraging and not getting mad even if she messes something up.
  • Berserk Button: For Beauty, insulting her mother. She is usually quite a sensible and level-headed girl, but when Skye won't stop insulting Dilly, Beauty threatens to shove her head-first into her profiterole cake.
  • Beta Bitch: Emily and Arabella to Skye.
  • Big Fancy House: The Cooksons' house. They live in a custom-built, six-bedroom house, with three bathrooms and a hot-tub. Beauty even has her own en-suite with taps shaped like dolphins. Gerry, of course, constantly shows it off to everyone who sets foot in it.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break:
    • Beauty's birthday ends in disaster. Gerry slaps Dilly, smashes up all the cookies that had been made for the party, humiliates Dilly and Beauty in front of their guests, berates and insults them afterwards and lets Beauty's pet rabbit out of its hutch, resulting in its death. This proves to be the last straw for Dilly, who leaves Gerry and takes Beauty with her that very evening, though subsequently, it means they are also homeless now.
    • Beauty can't even catch a break at someone else's birthday. Whilst attending Rhona's party earlier in the story, Skye and some of the other girls mock her clothes and hair (which is admittedly badly styled, but Beauty's father forced her to get it done). Then, Skye drags Beauty underwater whilst they're in the pool (Beauty isn't a strong swimmer), ruining her hair further and causing her to lose the little teddy she'd won in a party game. And then, when she gets home, Gerry openly states she "looks uglier than ever" when he sees her hair, resulting in Gerry and Dilly getting into a huge argument, whilst a distraught Beauty runs upstairs and ends up cracking her expensive mirror after hurling her hairbrush at her reflection.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Skye and her Girl Posse have shades of this.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: After learning her father let her pet rabbit out, resulting in its Cruel and Unusual Death, Beauty pushes him away when he tries to hug her and tearfully yells “I bloody hate you!” Gerry subsequently threatens to wash her mouth out with soap.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early in the story, Beauty's classmates mention the show Watchbox, with Arabella at one point stating Skye should go on it for her dancing. Near the end of the novel Beauty is invited to be on the show and make cookies.
  • Cool Big Sis: Angela acts as one to Beauty.
  • Cool Old Guy: Mike (though he’s implied to be more middle-aged than really elderly), for being very kind and understanding to Beauty and Dilly, giving out good advice and life lessons, giving Dilly a job despite her relative lack of experience and being nothing but supportive and encouraging of her even when she screws up, and calmly standing up to Gerry when he tries to force Dilly and Beauty to come home, even when Gerry punches him in the nose.
  • Control Freak: Gerry. On the lower end of the scale, the family are never allowed to wear shoes in the house in case they scratch the floor (which is somewhat reasonable)...on the other end, he tries to control what Beauty and Dilly wear, what they can say to him and even what hobbies they can do.
  • Domestic Abuse: Gerry, though he is emotionally abusive, rather than physically abusive (though he does slap his wife’s face and grabs her by the arm on one occasion). His horrible behaviour is no less damaging, though.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Gerry. A particularly outrageous example is when he believes Dilly left him because she thought he was going to lose all his money. You know, as opposed to subjecting her and their daughter to years of abuse and humiliation.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Beauty and Dilly. In the end, they leave Gerry and live in Rabbit Cove, where Dilly's cookies become very popular to the point where she could turn it into a proper business, finally enabling her become to independent and gain some self-esteem. Beauty becomes more confident, gains some friends, actually gets to meet Sam and Lily in person and is allowed to adopt a baby rabbit as a pet.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Beauty regards her first name as this for most of the story. In the end, she doesn’t seem to mind it so much, after meeting a girl with an equally embarrassing first name: Princess. Together, they decide to form an Unusual Names Club. Dilly also considers her given name of Dilys as utterly ridiculous, assuming her mother “thought it sounded posh” and usually goes by Dilly.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Beauty's middle name is Mercedes (her father’s car) and she is teased mercilessly, with Skye saying should be called ‘Ugly Skoda’.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Played for Drama for Beauty. Skye nicknames her ‘Ugly’, mocking her unusual first name and her appearance.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Dilly is blonde and very attractive. Apparently, Gerry has a thing for blondes, as his ex-wife at one point asks Dilly if he left for "another little blonde".
  • The Dog Bites Back: Dilly initially submits to Gerry and tries to please him, but she eventually begins standing up for herself.
  • False Friend: Several of the girls in Beauty's class start being very nice to her when they find out she's inviting them all to her extravagant birthday party. Beauty doesn't fall for it, knowing they're only sucking up to her to come to her party. She actually states she respects Skye to an extent for continuing to be mean to her, as at least she's being honest.
  • Fat Bastard: Gerry. Inverted with Mike and Simon.
  • Food Porn: Though not as detailed as other works, the descriptions of the food, especially the cookies, and the accompanying illustrations by Nick Sharratt, make you wish you could try them yourself.
  • Girl Posse: Skye has one.
  • Good Parents: Dilly, in sharp contrast to Gerry, is a very good mother to Beauty. She is constantly kind and supportive of her and does her best to make her safe and happy. Rhona’s mother and father seem to be pretty great parents, too.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Dilly. Strongly averted by Skye.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Gerry. Anything and everything can set him off.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: Dilly is desperately trying to maintain one with Gerry, especially at Beauty's birthday party. She eventually decides it's not worth it and leaves.
  • Hate Sink: Gerry, Skye, Emily and Arabella are all presented as flat-out bullies with few to no redeeming qualities primarily so that they can be hated thoroughly by the reader.
  • Hates Their Parent: Beauty becomes increasingly alienated from her father, who is verbally and emotionally abusive to her and her mother. The last straw is when Beauty discovers her father got her pet rabbit killed, at which point she openly states she hates him. After she and her mother leave, she's quite happy to never see her father again.
  • Honorary Aunt: Avril is this to Beauty. She refers to her as "Auntie Avril" and mentions she always buys her good birthday gifts. She also lets Beauty and Dilly stay at her house temporarily after they leave Gerry.
  • Housewife: Dilly. Could be seen as a deconstruction, as her husband treats her more like a servant, constantly criticises everything she does and she has no real hobbies or interests outside the home. Beauty actually mentions that her dad made Dilly quit her job when they got married, saying her job now was to keep house whilst he worked (and thus leaving her completely dependent on him). In the end, she leaves him and gets a job as a breakfast chef and cleaner at a bed-and-breakfast, using her domestic skills as a housewife to earn her own money.
  • Imaginary Friend: Played with. Beauty idolises Sam, the main character in her favourite TV series Sam and Lily in the Rabbit Hutch and sometimes imagines having conversations with him, though technically, he is a real person. In the end, Beauty finally gets to meet Sam in person.
  • Important Haircut: Towards the end of the novel, Beauty gets her long hair cut short. Previously, she’d never been allowed to cut her hair, so it’s a sign of her breaking free from Gerry's control and becoming more of her own person. Everyone agrees that it suits her much better and she gains a much needed confidence boost.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: A hideous pink dress from Harrods which Gerry bought Beauty for Christmas. She describes it as "an elaborate bridesmaid-type satin dress with gauzy puff sleeves and ruching and frills flouncing everywhere." She goes on to state she looks like she's wearing "an old lady's eiderdown" in it and very narrowly manages to talk her father out of making her wear it to Rhona's party.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Mike develops this with Dilly and Beauty.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: She may be a bully who says it primarily to hurt Beauty, but most of Skye's comments about Gerry's Nouveau Riche tendencies are very accurate.
  • Karma Houdini: Downplayed for all of Beauty's tormentors.
    • It is never revealed if Gerry gets any particular punishment for his domestic abuse. However, the story does throw around the possibility that his new business deal will not go through, and that he will get arrested for bribery.
    • It is never stated if Skye and her accomplices get any comeuppance, but it is hinted that Rhona intends to end her friendship with them.
  • Kick the Dog: Gerry has several moments. His worst is deliberately letting out Beauty’s pet rabbit, resulting in it being killed by a fox (although some readers believe he killed the rabbit himself…). Another is smashing all the cookies Dilly painstakingly made for Beauty’s birthday. Hell, it's safe to say that Gerry has one of these moments pretty much any time he appears.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Skye and her cronies, who constantly bully Beauty, even on her birthday.
  • Lethal Chef: Subverted. Dilly starts out as a bad cook and her first batch of cookies is a disaster, but her initial lack of cooking skills is implied to be a consequence of Gerry not allowing her to improve, as opposed to inherent incompetence. Dilly gradually develops into a very talented cookie baker after she learns the basics and her cooking improves greatly towards the end of the story.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Beauty (at first). She is very well-off, but struggles to make friends because she doesn't fit in well with her classmates and is bullied by some of them. She eventually manages to befriend Rhona and by the end she's no longer wealthy but has made more friends.
  • Mama Bear: Over the course of the story, Dilly develops the courage to stand up to Gerry and defend Beauty from his verbal and emotional abuse.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Skye has “sky blue eyes”.
    • Beauty names the rabbit she got for her birthday, Birthday.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Dilly, who became a wife and a mother at a young age, is sometimes mistaken for Beauty's older sister due to her looks.
  • Never My Fault: Gerry is completely unwilling (or unable) to acknowledge his abusive behaviour, instead blaming it on his wife and his daughter.
  • Nice Guy: Mike, Sam, Rhona, Miranda and Angela.
  • Not with Them for the Money: Dilly tries to explain to Gerry that she was never remotely interested in his ability to afford expensive gifts; all she wanted was for him to "look after [her]" (implying she wanted a father figure more than anything). Gerry doesn’t seem to be able to comprehend this.
  • Nouveau Riche: Gerry comes across as this, having worked his way up to his current, well-paid position. He constantly tries to impress people with his wealth, most notably by forcing Beauty to have a fancy party with all her classmates despite her stating that she would prefer to celebrate her birthday with only a small number of people. In fact, none of Beauty's classmates are impressed by him bragging about the family's huge house.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Gerry orders Dilly to go put her diamond collar on for Beauty’s party. She had previously sold it without his knowledge to repair Beauty’s broken mirror.
  • Only Friend: Rhona becomes this to Beauty in the first half of the story, though Beauty makes other friends by the end of the story.
  • Parental Substitute: Mike becomes a father figure to Beauty by the end.
  • Perky Goth: Angela seems to be this.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The Victorian-style outfit Dilly buys Beauty for her birthday.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Upon coming home from Rhona's birthday party, Beauty is described as looking "uglier than ever" by Gerry; this angers and saddens her to such an extent that she flings her hairbrush at her Venetian glass mirror. It shatters and Beauty immediately regrets it, knowing that Gerry will be furious. Fortunately, Gerry never finds out, as Dilly sells a diamond collar to buy a replacement and sneaks the broken one out before he notices.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Pretty much anything can be this for Gerry. He first gets set off by Beauty merely asking if she’d be allowed to get a pet rabbit for her birthday.
  • Rich Jerk: Skye and Gerry.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Lily the rabbit and Birthday, the rabbit Rhona gets Beauty for her birthday. Which makes what happened to poor Birthday all the worse.
  • Self-Made Man: Gerry was this. He tends to use his "hard work" as an excuse to treat his wife and daughter like crap and accuse them of being "ungrateful" if they do something he doesn't like. In the end Dilly is on her way to becoming a Self-Made Woman.
  • Shipper on Deck: Beauty ships her mother with Mike and is dismayed when Dilly says she isn’t interested in getting into a new relationship so soon.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Dilly is not as academically gifted as Beauty, and Gerry calls her a fool on an almost daily basis. However, just as it is made clear that Beauty is not ugly, it is similarly established that Dilly is not "stupid".
  • Supreme Chef: Mike is a very good cook and Dilly develops a knack for baking excellent cookies.
  • Sweet Baker: Dilly is a kindhearted and optimistic cookie-baker, who is particularly devoted to ensuring her daughter is safe and happy.
  • Teacher's Pet: Beauty's bullies often accuse her of being one, but the teachers actually like her because she pays attention in class, causes no disruption and actively engages in the material.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Defied by Rhona. Despite being friends with Skye, Rhona never participates in the bullying and is genuinely kind to Beauty.
  • Trophy Wife: Gerry seems to view Dilly as one, with him actually stating at one point he “married [her] for [her] looks”. She gets sick of this eventually and leaves.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Gerry insists on invoking this trope with Beauty, but his actions have the opposite effect. The story makes it clear that Beauty does not need a "pretty" appearance or even gaudy clothes and hairdos just to avoid looking "ugly".
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Gerry insists on invoking this trope with Dilly, but his actions border on Domestic Abuse.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Rhona, to a certain extent. When Beauty casually mentions that she would love to have a pet rabbit Rhona gets her one for her birthday, thinking it would be a perfect gift. She's right, but she has no idea that Gerry has forbidden Beauty from having pets and is secretly furious. After all the guests leave, Gerry lets the rabbit out of its hutch and it is killed, which finally results in Dilly breaking up with him and leaving with Beauty. Beauty doesn't blame Rhona and even avoids telling her the details so as not to upset her, knowing she was just trying to be a good friend.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Beauty spends much of the first half of the novel trying to please Gerry (though some of it's motivated from fear). She eventually stops caring what her dad thinks.
  • White Bunny: Lily, the rabbit from the TV show Sam and Lily in the Rabbit Hutch, whom Beauty adores and views as a source of comfort.
  • Why Are You Not My Son?: Gerry is clearly very impressed with Skye and Beauty states it's "obvious he would give anything to have a daughter like her". Gerry mistakenly believes they're friends (or that Beauty should make an effort to befriend her), oblivious to the fact Skye is a complete bitch to his daughter. Ironically, Skye herself privately thinks Gerry is a joke and incessantly mocks him behind his back.
  • Wicked Stepfather: Implied with Dilly. She mentions having left home at sixteen due to her mother's boyfriend, though she doesn't go into detail about what happened.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Gerry slaps his own wife across the face... at their daughter’s birthday party no less.


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