Mai Donohue left Vietnam in 1970 to move to the United States with her husband Brian. Mother of seven children, Mai received her Bachelor’s Degree, cum laude, from the University of Rhode Island in 2002 after twelve years of study.

After raising her children Mai worked with students in the Alternate Learning Program at Barrington High School in Rhode Island for fifteen years.

Mai grew up in a country at war. Her small village, Thong An Ninh village in the Quang Ngai Province in the central region of Vietnam, was torn between north and south. From age 7, too small and frail to work in the fields, Mai cared for her nieces and nephews, winning their hearts with stories and delicious meals.

Some sixty years later, Mai still wins people’s heart with her inspirational stories and delicious cuisine. She has precise taste memory, and can reproduce a dish after tasting it once, even recalling flavors from 30 years ago. She spreads the love with food through cooking for community dinners to raise funds for orphanages and infrastructure for underserved children in Vietnam and schools in need in the U.S.

In her first book "Crossing the Bamboo Bridge - Memoirs of a Bad Luck Girl, " Mai tells her inspirational life-story of poverty, rebellion, and war.



Mai: A lesson in courage, passion & hope

View the Emmy nominated PBS documentary about Mai by 3rd Story Productions

Crossing the Bamboo Bridge - Memoirs of a Bad Luck Girl

An inspirational tale of courage and triumph against all odds.

Praise & Reviews

for Crossing the Bamboo Bridge - Memoirs of a Bad Luck Girl

  • A captivating story of a young Vietnamese girl who resisted all odds and realized a true American dream. Movies are made about women like Mai Donohue.
    Chris Morrow, Co-author of NY Times Bestsellers "Do You," "Super Rich," and "Take Back Your Family"
  • Mai Donohue weaves together a wrenching tale of poverty, rebellion, enterprise and unwavering tenacity. Set against the backdrop of a rural hamlet in Central Vietnam and the urban swagger of a wartime, 1960's Saigon, this is an uplifting story of survival and, ultimately, the power of love.
    SanSan Kwan, PhD, Assoc. Prof/UC-Berkeley, and Author of "Kinesthetic City"
  • It's not fashionable to say, but I happen to think there are too many unearned memoirs being churned out these days. Mai Donohue's breathless, riveting journey, from being a child bride in an impoverished Vietnamese village to a middle class mother of six in a wealthy American suburb, is astounding and inspiring, a true tale of survival against incredible odds. Her experiences are searing, but matter-of-factly told and I couldn't stop reading about them. This is a memoir from someone who's earned the right to have one, a hundred times over.
    Lauren Iannotti, Executive Editor, Rachael Ray Every Day
  • Through Mai Donohue's riveting memoir we experience the French and American Vietnam Wars-- the barbarous tactics of the Communists and others, the family divisions, the degrading treatment of women and much more. Forced into a brutal marriage as a young teenager, Mai narrowly escapes to South Vietnam after several failed efforts. Through enormous courage and ingenuity, Mai manages to carve out a life for herself during the peak years of the American Vietnam War. It is a story of survival against insurmountable odds but it is also a story of love and hope.
    Gerry Tyler, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Rhode Island
  • Mai Donohue's amazing story of war, survival and love conquering all is an inspiration. We never tire of Mai's stories and life lessons, learned the hard way.”
    Marty & Porter Halyburton (former POW in North Vietnam)
  • I read this book in a single sitting and since then have used it as a personal day to day tool to take measure of what’s really important.
    Molly Schiot, author of “Game Changers: The Unsung Heroines of Sports History”