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Donna Has Left the Building

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  54 ratings  ·  29 reviews
From the beloved, New York Times bestselling author of Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress comes a hilarious, timely, and big-hearted new novel about rebuilding life in the face of disaster.

Forty-five-year-old Donna Koczynski is an ex-punk rocker, a recovering alcoholic, and the mother of two teenagers whose suburban existence detonates when she comes home early from a sales
Published June 2019 by Grand Central
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  54 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Betsy Robinson
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Susan Jane Gilman is a funny writer—hilarious, belly-laugh-inducing, causing one to cough and gasp in joy—who writes real, complicated characters, complete with pain and delusions. And the reason they are so deeply funny is that Gilman is self-aware enough to know and show their flaws better than they know them.

I knew this after reading her last novel, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street , but when I realized how contemporary and domestic this new story was (about a wife and mother and crack
Jennie Shaw
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like Uncle Albert and Bert from the OG Mary Poppins, I love to laugh. And oh my, has it been a long time since a book has tickled my funny bone so relentlessly. In DONNA HAS LEFT THE BUILDING, what may appear to be a typical “wife comes home early to find husband in compromising situation” story is anything but. I cannot stress this enough: In no shape, way, or form have you read anything like this treasure trove of hilarity. Granted, Donna didn't find it terribly amusing, but that’s the awesome ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Donna is a failed punk rocker, a recovering alcoholic, and a mother of two teens. When she comes home early from a Las Vegas marketing conference (she's a "culinary ambassador" for Privileged Kitchen--think Pampered Chef), she gets the shock of her life when she discovers her husband getting his freak show on. As their relationship problems escalate, Donna takes off on a frenzied road trip to find relationships from the past but where she ends up and how she finds herself again is totally unexpe ...more
May 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book way more than I actually did. Donna was a hot mess but that was the whole concept for the book. Plus, I did not mind that she was so scatter brained. This was the charm about her as well as it showed that she was relatable and human.

What did not work for me were everyone else. I could not find any connection towards any of them. Thus they just faded into the mobpit. Which, Donna is a star in her own right but she actually benefits from others to help with her s
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A fun entertaining read! A great story about rebuilding your life and rediscovering yourself about bad times strikes. Very enjoyable from start to finish. I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway.
Susie Williams
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
(thank you to the publisher for my copy of this book)

3 1/2 stars rounded up to 4.

This book is a wild ride. Seriously, wild. I have such crazy mixed feelings about it; I don't even really know how to process it. I'll start by saying that Gilman is a really talented writer who knows how to build characters. She also knows how to make readers laugh out loud. I was dying for the first third of this book. The story bordered on realistic and totally over the top that I found myself telling my husband
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
The writing's perfectly sound but, ugh! These middle-age coming-of-age tales leave me bored. I'm not going to pretend I read all of this; I read the beginning and the end and skipped over most of the middle. Its funny in an absurdist way and I can see how someone might like it more than I did.

Thanks to the publisher who were kind enough to send me an advance copy for review.
Susan McGrath
Jun 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I received an advance reader’s copy of Donna Has Left the Building by Susan Jane Gilman from the publisher (Grand Central Publishing) in exchange for an honest review. Donna Has Left the Building is scheduled for release on June 4, 2019.

Donna is forty-five. Her past as a punk rocker with a boyfriend who worships her as a goddess when they aren’t fighting is far behind her. She lives in suburbia with her dentist husband. She has two nearly adult children, one who is studying abroad. Donna’s job i
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Donna Has Left the Building, by Susan Jane Gilman, is a standalone novel. Donna had big, wild dreams when she was younger, but she settled down with a steady man and gave most of them up. Now, she is a faithful wife and the mother of two teenagers, giving cooking demonstrations and selling kitchenware. Her life is boring but safe, she thinks.

But her relationship with her husband is neither as safe nor as steady as she thought. She takes off on an impromptu road trip, chasing after the person she
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Donna has what appears to be a normal middle class life. She lives in the suburbs, has a husband and two kids and a "work-from-home" sales job in true Tupperware fashion. Then, while attending a convention for her company, she saves a man's life and it sends her dashing back home where life quickly spirals out of control. There were parts of the first part of the book between Donna and her husband where I was laughing out loud, and I'm pretty sure the whole second part of the book was intended t ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I received this advanced readers copy from a Goodreads giveaway; thank you.

This is Donna’s middle-age crisis story that made me smile (a little) and cringe (a lot). It explores the topics of how do you make your teenage dreams come true at 45?, why didn’t they come true? Why did we choose to settle? When did our life become so ordinary? when we were so extraordinary and that we could do anything we set our minds to (we thought). How could we let that happen? Of course, in the narrative of this n
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this advanced readers copy from a Goodreads giveaway. This book took me up and down, I started out really resonating with the main character Donna. She is asober alcoholic, a mom of teens, whose lives her life revolved around. Married to a dentist(why are dentists always weird?), working as a sales rep for a kitchen gadget company, taking care of her family, her home, her neurotic dog, she has this life. Then, she comes home from a conference early to an enormous surprise. And her lif ...more
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. That’s all I can say after I finished this book. Thank you to GCP for giving me an early ARC to review. I had to read it - after all I was obsessed with The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard street! Donna Koczynski is about to turn 45 and her whole life is turned upside down after she returns early from a bad work related convention in Vegas. She goes on a road trip across America with a new guitar that she named Aggie. Yes, that explains the guitar on the cover..but really her former life as a mu ...more
Sonya Moyle
Thank you to Grand Central Publishing and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. (Obtained through Shelf Awareness)

Donna is a washed up rocker, recovering alkie, a mother, and wife. When she arrives home from a trip early, she finds her husband in a weird state (no spoilers!). She tries to accept this new lifestyle, but just can't and she has a crisis and sets out on a road trip to try to find herself again.

Along the way she visits someone from her past, tries to p
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that is really all over the place. It begins with a fairly light-hearted tone. Donna, an aging punk-rocker turned suburban mom, discovers her husband's secrets and takes off on a capricious road trip. Along the way, she rediscovers an old friend and a lost love along with experiencing some odd and interesting side adventures. Then the story drifts to a much more somber note with Donna seeking to rescue her teenage activist daughter and becoming involved with the refugee crisis in ...more
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a fun and touching rollercoaster ride of a novel this turned out to be! From the neon lit cover, I expected this to be fun and yet, it's also touching and serious by turns.

Certainly my favorite scene is when Donna flees a work function and arrives home unexpectedly and happens upon a very odd situation.

And, again, although there are plenty of laugh out loud scenes and situations, there is the sober truth of a recovered alcoholic who is battling her own demons and keeping her act together
Courtney Roach
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Donna, middle-aged mom of two, comes home from a Las Vegas work trip to an unfathomable scenario with her marriage. All that this onetime punk rocker has known is now skewed, and shakes her foundation of understanding who she is. What ensues is a wild, crazy, gut-punching road trip that unexpectedly drops Donna onto the other side of the world. New York Times Bestselling author Susan Jane Gilman’s book is sneakily inspirational with twists and turns that keep you guessing. Throw this read in you ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Donna Has Left the Building will leave you emotionally feeling like you have just been dragged across a field by your hair. Each part of this novel, on its own, is almost ridiculous. However, Susan Jane Gilman has taken a literary needle and stitched these stories together with a manic thread that ties everything together. This book is the literary equivalent of Red Bull and Vodka.
Jun 11, 2019 added it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Putting this down after 3 chapters. It just made me...uncomfortable. But not in a good way. And I didn’t see it going anywhere good. So although I love this author, I’m going to let this one go and move on to something else.
Rachel Ames
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I honestly wasn't sure I was going to like this book. This isn't usually the genre I go for as I lean heavily into the urban fantasy genre. Yet, this book was incredibly well written I really enjoyed it.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Many parts were crazy funny. Then it suddenly took a serious turn. We went from Donna’s marriage crisis and total meltdown to rescuing refugees. I don’t know. An odd stitching together of events, but I did like the book. I can see some good discussion coming from it.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
***Received via Goodreads Giveaway***

The writing was good and the characters were relatable. This probably makes me a bad person, but I think it lingered on the end crisis just a bit much, but I still liked the book.

Carole Knoles
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Suggested alternate title- “Donna Loses Her Damn Mind So You Can Go Along On Her Hilarious Ride”
I found this book hilarious and a great vicarious kicking over the traces that almost everyone has at one time or another had a secret desire to do when it all becomes too much. So funny, I loved it.
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An intricate story of how some mom's deal with life. This was an emotional rollercoaster of a ride through the whole book. It was way out there but so down to earth real that I was rooting for Donna the whole way.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that captures the times. Funny, witty and poignant.
This book asks: How would you react if your life all of a sudden falls aparts?
Laura Halcom
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the author's writing style. It kept me very interested in all of Donna's exploits until the book got so serious at the end. It didn't wrap things up the way I thought it would.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Funny, refreshing and full of life. This was a light and humorous read. I enjoyed the reading this authors style very much.
May 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I didn't like this book. At the beginning I was along for the ride of Donna's midlife crisis but it just got more and more pathetic and by the end I found that I no longer cared about privileged white suburban jerks and their petty problems. I want to avoid spoilers but based on the end maybe that was the point? However, without giving too much away, I found the end to be super exploitative. Not for me.
rated it did not like it
Apr 11, 2019
Heather Carr
rated it it was amazing
Jan 16, 2019
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Susan Jane Gilman’s new novel, “Donna Has Left the Building” will be published in June 2019. She is also the bestselling author of three nonfiction books “Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress,” “Undress me in the Temple of Heaven,” and “Kiss My Tiara," as well as the novel, "The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street." She's provided commentary for National Public Radio. She has an MFA in Creative Writing ...more