I did it. I went ahead and returned The Steep and Thorny Way. I really didn't want to read it anymore, and I wasn't reading anything else because I felt guilty for not reading the other.
I feel like this is a huge step in adulthood for many readers. The point when they feel okay about NOT reading a book they've started. Not hanging with a book until the bitter end. I have made that step numerous times. But this time, I quit a book I was supposed to read for work. Kind of. I mean, it was on the Sequoyah Nominee list and it's on the high school list, so as a teen library associate I should probably try to read those. I set the goal for myself.
I decided the goal was not going to happen if I got stuck on this one book. I sacrificed the one for the good of the whole. And I might do it again if I run across another lemon.