'One of the most critical Pākehā books to come out this year is undoubtedly This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir by Alison Jones. Shortlisted for the Ockham NZ Book Awards, This Pākehā Life is truly a vital read for all those who consider themselves allies to tāngata whenua. Alison Jones can interrogate whiteness in a universally approachable way.'
Anna McAllister, Pantograph Punch, 5 May 2021.
'I have been recommending this book to everyone. And those who have accepted my recommendation are now recommending it to others. Its story may at first seem to be a modestly low-key one, but it quickly proves to have a powerful impact, with resonances that will be personal for every reader.'
Lindsay Shelton, Scoop Review of Books, 23 December 2020.
'She maps a rough path toward a Pākehā identity that avoids the dead-end positions of guilt and blame and ignores shallow branding exercises associated with national identity ... Instead, she models a renegotiation of 'Pākehā-ness' in relation to Māori that is respectful, honest and, she suggests, positive.'
Sally Blundell, North & South, December 2020.
'I enjoyed this book on so many different levels that it is hard to unpack them. It is a scholarly memoir, addressing an issue of profound importance for Aotearoa New Zealand, as we embrace our past in order to create a new and better future, and it is also a work of social history, interesting in itself to a New Zealander, but extraordinarily so to someone like me, who found resonances of my own experience in so many of its instances.'
Nesta Devine, NZ Journal of Educational Studies, October 2020.
'The results feel more like a book of wisdom and experience rather than being preachy social commentary or heavy-handed writing; the reader is allowed to deeply dwell in all the novelties of twentieth century New Zealand society and upbringing while still feeling like they have just read a forceful account of identity, whiteness, and relationship.'
Andrew Clark-Howard, Metanoia, 19 October 2020.
'I am relieved to read an author who professes doubt rather than certainty, awkwardness rather than ease; who asks questions and offers diffident answers; who relates anecdotes pointing to failure, bafflement, disappointment and occasional success. As Alison Jones says towards the end of This Pākehā Life, "My position was not – and is not – a confident one."'
Tim Upperton, NZ Listener, 10 October 2020.
'She asks a lot of hard questions that Pākehā New Zealanders need to ask themselves and so I think it's brave and bold to be able to do that ... this is just the beginning of a conversation that's going to keep going on.'
Jenna Todd, 95bfm, Loose Reads, 5 October 2020.
'This Pākehā Life is an important and timely invitation for Pākehā to look more deeply into the psychology of identity and belonging, using Jones’s own life as a starting point. By sifting through her history, set against the political and cultural time in which she has lived, the personal becomes universal.'
Caroline Barron, Kete, 15 September 2020 and published on Stuff, 19 September 2020.
'“The desire for redemption is a powerful urge,” Alison Jones writes of the Pakeha “need for recognition that we are not ‘all bad’ in our history”. In this searingly honest, bighearted, erudite and compellingly humble memoir, Jones contends that understanding “the details of our history is a good place to start”.'
Stephanie Johnson, NZ Herald Canvas magazine & Academy of New Zealand Literature, 12 &16 September 2020.