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Finished With Oxygen Book Club's December 2022 Pick? It's Time To Discuss!

Jan Broberg was kidnapped multiple times by a friend of the family in the 1970s. How could it have happened?

By Becca van Sambeck
Oxygen Book Club highlights books in the crime sphere each month and features exclusive interviews, guided discussions, and more.

For Jan Broberg and her family, one man overshadowed their life in the 1970s: neighbor and close friend Robert Berchtold. Not only did Berchtold kidnap, brainwash, and sexually abuse Jan, but he also manipulated her parents as well — to the point where he was able to abscond with Jan a second time.

It took awhile for the Brobergs to truly process the trauma one man was able to inflict on them after taking advantage of each of them. That process is described in "The Jan Broberg Story: The True Crime Story of a Young Girl Abducted and Brainwashed by a Friend of the Family," a memoir Jan co-authored with mother Mary Ann Broberg. 

The powerful non-fiction read was selected as December 2022's pick in Oxygen Book Club. Once you've finished reading the book yourself, consider examining these discussion questions with your friends:

1. Had you heard of Jan Broberg before reading this book? If so, what did you know of her and her story?

2. What did you think of the choice to have the book co-written by both Jan and her mother, Mary Ann? Did it help you understand her mother's perspective more? What impact did it have on the overall narrative?

3. The book dives into the way Robert Berchtold was able to manipulate an entire family. Did your perspective on Jan's parents change as you read the book? Why or why not?

4. What was the most shocking part of the story to you, and why? In turn, what part of the book did you find the most hopeful?

5. Did this case remind you of others you have heard about? Did they have similar endings, or no?

RELATED: 'Girl, Forgotten' Author Karin Slaughter Reveals Why She Picked That Book Title

6. How did being involved in a small church community impact the way the family responded to the kidnappings? Would their reactions have changed if the setting had changed?

7. What insight did you gain into Robert Berchtold himself through Jan and her mother's recollections?

8. If you've watched the documentary about this case, "Abducted In Plain Sight," how do you think it compared to this first-person account? Did you get a different impression of the Brobergs from the book than the documentary?

9. Similarly, if you've watched "Friend Of The Family" on Peacock, how did you think the show compared to Jan's book? What changes were made when translating it into a fictionalized TV show, and how did it impact the story?

And if you have more thoughts let us know! Use the hashtag #oxygenbookclub to keep the discussion going on social media.