Study Guide

A Great and Terrible Beauty Versions of Reality

By Libba Bray

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Versions of Reality

In A Great and Terrible Beauty,Gemma is caught between worlds—the real world and the realms, the place of dreams and death where souls pass through (or stay if they get corrupted). And the thing is, that ultimately Gemma comes to understand that both are real—they're just different experiences that she can interact with on different occasions.

But there is another element to the versions of reality presented in this book too: the reality society insists on for young women, and the reality of who they truly are and how they actually experience things. In some ways, society's expectations emerge as the biggest illusion in the entire book, which is really saying something about society since there's a whole magical world up in the mix.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. How does Gemma feel about her visions of the future? Are they clear or does she have to figure out their meaning?
  2. Why does having visions give Gemma power? What kind of power is it? 
  3. How do Gemma's visions change the way she feels about her family? About herself?

Chew on This

In this book, dreams are just as important to Gemma's success as what she reads or learns through experience.

The visions Gemma has are no real help to her because she usually can't figure them out for a long time, and it takes other things happening or other people's information to help her finally understand them.

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