And though the story is just as personal for his mother, it turns out she was working through an even earlier experience when she wrote the story.
"My father died suddenly when I was 21," she said. "I was still a kid, I was still living at home. And even though I was about to get married in a few weeks, I was very young in my life experiences and I was very, very close to my father. He was the parent that I adored.
"My mother, who was never really able to talk about anything — that's just who she was — she lived another 30 years and she never talked about it. Ever. I think she just wasn't able to."
The absentee parent is potent thread in the "Tiger Eyes" narrative. "But to this day, I know I wasn't thinking about my mother when I wrote the book, her having nothing left to give me, or not having any way to help me through it," Blume said. "You know, we'd sometimes talk about Daddy, but we never talked about that day that he died. I was with him, and she was upstairs in the house, and, you know, it's a sad story."
She says "Daddy" with the inflection of a little girl, and it might just be the most endearing sound on the planet.
"I swear to you," she said, "I don't know how I didn't know I was dealing with this when I was writing the book."
When the film was shot, the Blumes were on the New Mexico set together every day.
"It was really a joy to have Judy next to me and being able to say, 'Did I get that right? Am I flying off the handle here?'" said Larry (who has called his mother by her first name since he was in high school). "She was incredibly generous letting me, more or less, have free rein to do with her work what I thought was right.
"I just wanted to make sure that, first and foremost, I didn't make a mess of her great book. And (that) whatever I did with it was something we did together,— that Judy wouldn't look at it and say, 'I can't believe I gave you this book and you screwed it up!' My only fear all along has been, I want to make something that all the people who read the book and liked it will not feel like we ruined it. Because that's always the fear with any adaptation."
Not that he needed to worry about one important viewer.
"I am really happy with the movie," Judy said. "And Larry feels that that's the really important thing to him — that he did this and I love it."
Judy Blume will be at a matinee screening, presented by Anderson's Bookshop, of "Tiger Eyes" at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Tivoli Theatre in Downer's Grove. For more information go to classiccinemas.com or andersonsbookshop.com.
Read Nina Metz's very personal profile of Judy Blume in Sunday's Printers Row Journal. Blume will receive the 2013 Chicago Tribune Young Adult Literary Prize June 9 at Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St., and is in conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Keller. Go to printersrowjournal.com for both the story and ticket information.
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