Title: Trying to Float
Author: Nicolaia Rips
Pages: 256 Pages
“Hysterically droll, touching, elegant, and wise—a coming-of-age story from someone who possibly came of age before her parents” (Patricia Marx,New Yorker writer and bestselling author), Trying to Float is a seventeen-year-old’s darkly funny, big-hearted memoir about growing up in New York City’s legendary Chelsea Hotel.
New York’s Chelsea Hotel may no longer be home to its most famous denizens—Andy Warhol, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, to name a few—but the eccentric spirit of the Chelsea is alive and well. Meet the family Rips: father Michael, a lawyer turned journalist with a penchant for fine tailoring; mother Sheila, a former model and world-renowned artist who matches her welding outfits with couture; and daughter Nicolaia, a precocious high school junior at work on a record of her peculiar “youth.”
Nicolaia is a perpetual outsider who has struggled to find her place in public schools populated by cliquish girls and loudmouthed boys. But at the Chelsea, Nicolaia need not look far to find her tribe. There’s her neighbor Stormy, a tall albino woman who keeps a pink handgun strapped to her ankle; her babysitter, Paris, who may or may not have a second career as an escort; her friend Artie, former proprietor of Studio 54. The kids at school might never understand her, but as Nicolaia endeavors to fit in she begins to understand that the Chelsea’s motley crew could hold the key to surviving the perils of a Manhattan childhood.
With a voice as fabulously compelling as Holden Caulfield’s, Nicolaia Rips’s debut is a disarming, humble, heartfelt, and wise tale of coming of age amid the contradictions, complexities, and shifting identities of life in New York City. A bohemian Eloise for our times, Trying to Float is a triumphant parable for the power of embracing difference in all its forms.
As far as memoirs about relatively unknown people go, Trying to Float by Nicolaia Rips is pretty damn funny.
Those of you who have read my reviews before will have no trouble believing that I chose yet another book based on the interesting cover. But, you see, if I didn’t have this method of choosing books then I would never have come across this little gem – much like author Nicolaia Rips – Trying to Float is a bit of a diamond in the rough.
Nicolaia is, unbeknownst to her younger self, a little bit odd. This isn’t that unusual; most children are a little bit quirky. For Rips, this has meant that she has been pretty much an outcast and socially stunted by her peers. Again, in real life, this is not something so unusual. As someone who experienced the uncomfortable awkwardness of childhood and teenager-dom I completely empathise – there isn’t anything crueller than school children and no amount of money in the world would make me go back and experience it again. However, I do wish that I had written down my experiences much like Rips has done.
Through all of this, Nicolaia Rips holds on tightly to her unconventional upbringing in the infamous Chelsea Hotel. The cast of characters that she has daily dealings with colour and shape her formative years in the best, most avant-garde way; the hotel and its inhabitants becoming as much a part of Rips colourful tapestry as her experiences outside of her awkward school days.
In Trying to Float, Rips shares her tales of woe, not with sadness or shame but with resignation way beyond her years. A resignation that, to be honest, fills you with hope. This sounds incredibly cheesy but you do get the sense that Rips has a beautiful and creative future ahead of her.
Trying to Float by Nicolaia Rips is available now.
For more information about Nicolaia Rips (@nicolaiarips) please visit her official website www.nicolaiarips.com.
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