By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Alpharetta, Georgia (CNN) -- Before we had "16 and Pregnant," push-up bras for tweens or mandatory sex education, girls like Donna Liska-Johnson learned about the birds and the bees from author Judy Blume.
Liska-Johnson was 11 years old when her aunt gave her a copy of Blume's breakthrough novel, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret." She formed an instant bond with 12-year-old Margaret Simon who, like her, was embarking upon puberty at a time when people didn't talk openly about boys, bras and periods. She had finally found someone she could relate to.
"I would close my door and the world would fall away," she said. Blume's first-person narrative "always connected me with the character because she wrote so close to the heart."
Believe it or not, it's been nearly 43 years since "Are You There God?" jump-started Blume's prolific career, which changed the way a generation of readers learned about menstruation, masturbation and sex, among other growing pains. Though she's had her critics over the years, Blume, who turned 75 last week, can still draw a crowd in this latest chapter of her career, which includes a forthcoming novel and the first major motion picture adaptation of one of her novels -- and it's not "Are You There God?"
"Tiger Eyes" may not be Blume's most popular book, but it's the one she and son Lawrence Blume (the inspiration for Fudge) had always wanted to bring to the big screen. Both said they felt a strong connection to lead character Davey Wexler, a teen whose mother uproots her from New Jersey to visit relatives in New Mexico after her father is killed in an armed robbery. Plus, it was the only novel they could film in 23 days on a budget that only allowed them to cast three professional actors from outside New Mexico, said Lawrence Blume, who directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay with his mother.