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inspired by Quebec's ban on margarine, which was enacted in the 1880s to protect the dairy industry, and which was only repealed in its entirety in 2008.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.
"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