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Stepping Back in Time to Understand our Contemporary American Scene with Karen Foresti Hempson's

Lucy, child of Italian immigrant parents, spent hot summers picking in the bean fields, but she gave her heart to immigrant child Francis, who grew up to be a dashing sailor stationed in Pearl Harbor on the most fateful day that "will live in infamy" and a place of "hell on earth." Karen Foresti Hempson's narrative, Bean Pickers, American Immigrant Portraits, is history come alive through the authentic voices and pictures of these hard-working, first and second generations of Italian American families, the author's extended family.

As history and personal narrative, Bean Pickers is a tough book to put down, reader moving from the bean fields around Utica and Rome, New York to the fate of a newsy, to a cave-in which traps the family patriarch, to a clever smuggler during Prohibition, all the way to a recent wave of immigrants and their struggles in contemporary Utica. A perfect book for middle schoolers, teachers, and historians, Bean Pickers offers much needed perspective on the current discussions centered on immigration.

More than anything, however, Bean Pickers is a love story, one in which Lucy and Francis somehow find each other and raise a family, including the author. As history, this is a rich and heart-warming text. As personal story, Bean Pickers is a ride you never want to end.

To order the book, contact the author at

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