In 1931, during a speech by Franklin Roosevelt, Eliza Baker fell from a high branch of the large, old balm of Gilead tree that George Washington once napped under, and died. Now it's 2003, and four young girls have learned that the town is planning on cutting down that landmark tree, and they've determined to stop it. The problem is that the tree is rotting on the inside, and the town had to choose between cutting it down or buying a $6,000 brace to hold it up, so in order to save the balm of Gilead, the girl s have to find a way to raise thousands of dollars.
Sabrina, Megan, Daisy, and Connie decide to hold a sockathon
--people will donate socks, and the girls will staple the socks together into a chain that they'll string all the way across town. And when people bring by their old socks, they'll also bring money. The girls are determined to make this work, especially because they know from firsthand experience that Eliza Baker's ghost lives in that tree--and if the balm of Gilead is cut down, where will Eliza live?
They talk to ministers, go to the mayor, and even convince cranky old Miss Campbell to make a donation, and along the way, each girl learns something about themselves, their families, and good citizenship.
I enjoyed this book, but I also think it was missing a little something. The surprise ending that brings the thing full circle is never known about by the girls. The POV switches every chapter between the four girls, so you never get too attached to any of them. And really, it isn't very exciting, and the ghost angle, which could have been fleshed out and played up, seems gimmicky.