Janice Porter yearns for a teenaged foster sibling, one with whom she will share a bedroom, confidences, and blue mascara. However, the arrival of sixteen-year-old August-Joy confronts Janice with the realities of the fostering process and demonstrates that genuine efforts to provide shelter and a home for surrendered children, combined with the tragedies of everyday life, have the potential to destroy a hosting family.
At the same time, "The New Girl" has recently been exiled to St. Margaret's Home for Girls, an institution housing unwed mothers. As Janice's perspective intersects with that of The New Girl, their understanding of the fostering and adoption processes deepens, and questions about motives, state protection, and the institutions that support the process emerge.
White Margarine is inspired by the author's childhood as the "real" child of fostering parents. The novel's title is inspired by Quebec's ban on margarine, which was enacted in the 1880s to protect the dairy industry, and which was only repealed in its entirety in 2008. White Margarine is an exploration of communication, allegiances and, above all, the individuals and institutions with a propensity to protect.
Hannah Brown is a former kindergarten, elementary, high school adult, and college teacher. An appetite for film and fine art resulted in two degrees from York University in film, and work as a screenwriter. Her screenplay, “How to Call Cows” won first prize from Studio D, National Film Board. Her fiction has recently appeared in several North American literary magazines and a short story was chosen as an entry for the 2016 Journey Prize. She lives in Toronto. Look After Her is her debut novel.
"White Margarine gives us a child's eye view of the heart-wrenching upheavals and confusions of living amongst an ever-changing roster of foster siblings. Elaine Hayes has shed a light on a little explored area of family dynamics and has given us in her protagonist Janice a character who will stay with us long after we have finished reading."
?Nino Ricci, author of Sleep
“Here is a voice poignant and alive, offering unusual insights in scintillating dialogue. To leave the last page of this work is to re-enter the world you thought you always knew but which you now recognize anew in Hedy and Susannah.” —Canisia Lubrin, author of Voodoo Hypothesis
“Look After Her brings sex, sisters, and psychodrama to a story that will leave you haunted.” —Jess Taylor, author of Just Pervs
“Superbly well-paced, the novel evokes a sense of time and place so strong you can taste the Viennese chocolat mit schlag and the Italian espresso, and feel a chilly London winter in your bones.” —Terri Favro, author of Once Upon a Time in West Toronto
“A complex relationship of sisterly love — complex at the easiest of times, compounded here by war and terrible circumstance. A beautifully detailed feast of a book!” —The Minerva Reader