@de Pizan @ru_ri @disasterfactory @MarianTheLibrarian Thanks, everyone! You've emboldened me to try again.
@de Pizan Yes! I think it's the "YA" title that bothers me. My intuition is that "A Wrinkle in Time" and the like are not good books for young adults, but simply good books. And I was under the suspicion that "YA" was being used as a code for "this book is kind of hack-y but maybe we can get away with it if we say it's for kids." Like when things are made "for women," aka, "not as good as the regular stuff." The assignment of genres for fiction really bothers me because great books necessarily bring something new to the table and assigning them to a genre obfuscates which books are doing that and which books were published because they'll make a buck.
The one piece of "YA" literature I have read since being "YA" myself was "The Book Thief" because it came highly recommended by many readers I respect. It was an uncomfortable experiment because I thought the book was really bad. The writing was dull, and the narrator "Death" seemed tacked on in an attempt to make the novel seem "interesting"--Death brought no added insight to the story, and it seemed to serve no particular purpose. If this is held up as a shining example of "YA" literature, I can't compel myself to explore the genre further. Dragging myself through that book made me empathize with people who hate reading.
The experience also has me reevaluating the dear books of my childhood. I have read and re-read Anne of Green Gables so many times through the years that I scarcely view it as a piece of fiction outside myself anymore, so at least Anne is safe. But would "Number the Stars" fall as flat now as "The Book Thief" did? (I still sometimes think of the Star of David mark in Annemarie's palm after she yanked her friend's necklace from around her neck to protect her during a raid of their house.) Would I find "A Wrinkle in Time" trite and boring? "A Ring of Endless Light"? "The Giver"? "His Dark Materials"? Have I become a monster who can't appreciate the things of childhood?!?!?!
I thought this was going to be about when you're in a relationship for years and years and you both vaguely know you'll probably get married one day but neither of you wants to pull the trigger and the person who finally does propose loses the game but you're both happy anyway.