I wrote SummerDance, a coming-of-age story about an eleven-year-old boy growing up in Detroit during “that hot dry 1967 summer,” describing “events that ended with me learning to be really scared of my own father, locked screaming in the bathroom, Dad pounding and bellowing to let him in, a thin and splintering door between us.”

The father wasn’t headline-grabbing abusive; instead, he was more have-too-much-to-drink-and-lose-control abusive, beating his boys with a belt,...

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