Trying to Float: Coming of Age
in the Chelsea Hotel
by Nicolaia Rips
Scribner, 2016; 272 pp
Reviewed by Charlie Riccardelli


Nicolaia Rips' debut memoir Trying to Float: Coming of Age in the Chelsea Hotel is a charming and funny memory of the author’s childhood made all the more remarkable when you realize the author is only eighteen years old. Rips has a commanding and clean prose style that’s remarkably assured for an author of any age, and Rips utilizes her talents to tell the story of her early childhood at the Chelsea Hotel and the experiences she had growing up in New York. Her stories of the famous hotel’s residents may be the big draw, but Rips’ writing shines brightest outside the hotel as she navigates the tricky world of education, particularly competing for spots at the city’s most competitive pre-k and elementary schools when our author brings such life and energy to the bizarre moments of parents and kids playing intense games to ensure a coveted acceptance from a prestigious school. Trying to Float concludes just before Rips enters high school. If college doesn’t consume too much of her time, we can hope for stories about those years soon enough.