Donna Has Left the Building

Donna Koczynski's life fell apart after she got sober--exactly five years and eight months after. In Donna Has Left the Building, Susan Jane Gilman (The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street) relates Donna's often hilarious, sometimes terrifying and eventually redemptive flight from her suburban Detroit life as wife, mom and nominee for the Platinum Spatula award for kitchenware salesperson of the year.

Returning early from the cookware convention, Donna surprises her dentist husband--catching him in costume, with a dominatrix, in their kitchen. The confrontation with Joey results in an agreement about acting out his fantasies. However, this, too, ends badly (in a scene also involving a spatula) and Donna hits  the road, driving her Subaru through the night and awakening to a view of New York City. The mantra of her journey--"I want. I need. Fill me."--alternates with self-loathing: "Who was I anymore?" When a reunion with her college roommate includes a throwback to their tarot card days, Donna becomes convinced she is meant to go find her former bandmate and high school lover, leading her to Nashville and a madcap, passionate rendezvous.

Donna's escapade is fueled not only by her husband's indiscretion but her teenagers' narcissistic disrespect. Yet when an SOS arrives that Ashley, studying in Europe, is sick and in a refugee camp in Lesvos, Greece, she flies to her daughter's side. In a novel with quirky characters, hilarious misadventures and kinky sex, the unexpected denouement of Donna Has Left the Building is a gritty, realistic depiction of a true crisis, and a tender story of family love. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

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