essays / memoir / nonfiction

Trying to Float: A Memoir by Nicolaia Rips


Surprisingly written by a girl who GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL in 2016! It is a memoir about growing up in the Chelsea Hotel. For some reason, it was on my wishlist so I requested from my library. I have no idea when I heard of it and knew pretty much nothing about it. At first, I thought it was a memoir taking place in the 1970s, her parents are artists of some sort (an artist and a writer, I guess) and her mom did a lot of backpack type travel as an adult. Then she mentioned Wifi and I flipped in the back and it turns out Nicolaia had basically just graduated high school when the book came out. In a final chapter, she talks about how it started out as an 8th-grade project. Oy.

Anyway! It was actually pretty good. If you are looking for a story of the Chelsea’s heyday this is not it but it is a glimpse into living in a very strange, decrepit (formerly?) famous hotel in NYC. It is a very quick read, I think I read it in an hour or so, there is a lot of dialogue and the chapters are very short. Each chapter is a vignette about an event in the hotel, the other eccentric residents, her parents, and her pet hamster. She has nicknames for a lot of the residents and when one dies, it turns out he was rather famous for running nightclubs in the 1970s. I don’t think is a book for everyone but I am a sucker for a memoir (I read three yesterday!) and I like reading stories about people growing up, even if they aren’t famous. So, I will recommend it with the caveat that you should think of it more as the memoir of a girl growing up around eccentric people and trying to navigate life as an oddball kid in NYC than a book about the Chelsea.

One thought on “Trying to Float: A Memoir by Nicolaia Rips

  1. Pingback: The Face of a Naked Lady: An Omaha Family Mystery by Michael Rips | Rachel Reads Books

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