Rory Garcia is a high school senior without a plan. He’s not really interested in school and he struggles to stay engaged. His father wants him to pick a college already, but it doesn’t seem likely. Rory’s bestie, Alexis, is doing her best to help Rory find his calling in some sort of trade school program.
Rory is dating Micah, a local boy in their suburban Pittsburgh town who’s been raised by his elder sister and gram since his parents died. Micah helps his sister sell her handicrafts in Sal’s Market, a community hang out and swap-meet type of place that’s housed in a crumbling cathedral. This place is Micah’s second home, and he’s really upset by the rumors that the building is on the market for sale. Micah’s a freshman at Penn, and he adores Rory with all his heart. That’s why Micah’s so unsettled when Justin shows up unexpectedly at Rory’s house.
Justin had been living near enough for him and Rory to become friends, but his family lives in Australia where they run a horse farm. Rory went to visit over the summer and he and Justin were super tight, but Justin is demisexual and suffers crippling social anxiety, so Rory had no idea Justin was falling hard for him. Before Micah, Rory admitted to having a serious crush on Justin—and Justin planned this surprise visit to the States to spend time with the boy who he thinks could be The One, while seeing a few of the colleges to which he’s already been accepted. Rory never expected Justin to show up out of nowhere, and is frustrated by his continued attraction to Justin, while he’s totally gone for Micah.
So, at the heart of this story are several conflicts: what’s going on with Sal’s Market, gentrification of urban and suburban neighborhoods, societal expectations for monogamy, issues around trans acceptance (Rory’s friend Alexis is trans), and struggles within interracial families, social justice, and social consciousness. The potential buyer of Sal’s is a teenaged boy from a billionaire Middle East family—he wants to raze the place to build luxury condos and prove to his father that he can run a part of their business. The people of Rory and Micah’s town aren’t pleased, because they’ll lose a gem of a market and the higher housing costs will drive locals even farther from Pittsburgh’s urban center. Justin is a bit of a wunderkind at solving real-world problems and he takes on Micah’s mission to save Sal’s, which helps bring them close together.
Micah isn’t especially intimidated by his “competition” with Justin for Rory’s attention or affection, mostly because he sees Justin’s struggles as endearing and chooses to make friendship bloom between them. Instead, however, it’s a level of attraction he couldn’t have anticipated. Meanwhile, Rory is trying to help with the social cause of Sal’s, and Alexis’ battles with uncooperative teachers in school. Oh, and figure out his college plans. And, who he should be with: Micah or Justin. It’s a long time before he realizes that he doesn’t want to go without either, but he takes a break from his daily chats/visits with Micah so he can make a fair and clear decision. It’s then, when Rory has severed all contact for the week, that Micah realizes he has power in this relationship as well, and his opinion tends to settle both his and Rory’s minds.
For a YA menage story, this book hits the mark of having the right amount of realistic attraction with the expected emotional turmoil. Rory suffers a lot, believing he can’t have what he really wants—both Justin and Micah–and it’s only through a lot of talk and trial and error that these three find a way to bridge their interpersonal gaps. Justin’s struggles with choosing a college seem slightly easier in the face of their new relationship, but it’s still not easy. And, I felt that difficulty was managed well within the three character points-of-view.
I liked this story, even though it had WAY MORE plot situations than I was expecting. It’s a really intertwined story, and I was a little overwhelmed by the different directions the book moved. It’s a lot more than a simple romance, even with the menage. In truth, I felt it kind of rambled, and I did get distracted from time to time as a result. That said, the big arcs of plot helped Rory define a plan for his future, one as non-traditional as his relationship with Justin and Micah. It totally ends happily, with extended family being supportive and the boys having a soft landing for their deep love for one another. If you like teen/YA romance this might be a good one for you.
Note: For What It’s Worth is the ninth book in the #LoveHim series, but is a standalone romance. I haven’t read any previous titles in the series and did not feel as if I’d missed something going in.