Teenagers are really good at keeping secrets when they want to, and are even better at spilling the beans and gossiping about those beans to anyone they can. In A Great and Terrible Beauty,Gemma and her friends keep secrets from each other and from many other folks—secrets having to do with magic, sex, disease, drug addiction, suicide, misunderstood motives… it's a long list. Keeping secrets is one way the girls can both feel powerful and maintain power over others, and one way they try to protect—or claim power over—themselves.
Questions About Secrets
Do secrets complicate the relationships in the book or make them simpler?
How do Gemma's secrets affect her? How do they affect others in her life?
Why is Pippa keeping a secret about herself? Is it good or bad?
What role do secrets play in the realms? What good do they do? What bad?
Do you think secrets are necessary in this book? Why or why not?
Chew on This
Gemma keeps secrets about her power and about her mother's death because she is scared.
Gemma would rather not have any secrets because they take so much effort to keep.