In Borderline as in her two earlier novels, Hospital demonstrates her fascination with the effect on people of stepping outside the boundaries that hold their lives together. Her first novel, The Ivory Swing (1982), which won the fifty-thousand-dollar Seal First Novel Award for Canadian-landed immigrants and citizens, for example, presented the outcome of a clash of Western and traditional Indian beliefs.
Borderline impressed some critics as a culmination of Hospital’s narrative and metaphoric skills but occasioned others to suggest that she had grossly overtaxed them. Both detractors and supporters cited the unforgiving texture of the novel and its disdain for readers’ normal expectations of fiction. Other charges made against Hospital’s earlier work could be made against Borderline, too, such as that characterization is patchy and rarely rings true.