Flo-Joe for Cambridge English Exams

Cambridge English: Proficiency

Check out students' answers to Flo-Joe's CPE Writing tasks with a teacher's feedback

Writing Class: Letter on Set Text

Task Type: Letter on Set Text

The book club that you belong to is looking for recommendations based on novels with the following theme:

How life's experiences can help us deal with vulnerability.

Write a letter to the chief librarian recommending Nick Hornby's 'About a Boy' for consideration in their future reading programme. You should discuss the significance of this theme with reference to ONE of the characters in the novel. (around 280 - 320 words)

Makeover: Lena

Read Lena's answer to this question. Try correcting the piece of writing yourself first: use the marking codes to think about what might be wrong (or what's good) about the piece of work. Then when you're ready, click the green buttons in the text for our feedback.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to recommend the novel "About a Boy" by Nick Hornby for the reading program of the book club. The cover of the book says it all; the narration mounts around the story of a 12-year old boy, Marcus Brewer. However, surprisingly, the real boy is not Marcus but a grown-up man, Will Freeman, aged 36. In his sparkling thought-provoking book, the author unfolds WW the story of Will and explores the theme of vulnerability.

The main protagonist is a single unattached man who lives in the lap of luxury even though he has never worked a single day in this life. His only occupation is his self-indulgences, smoking, drinking, and dating women. He hates families, children, and any domesticity. On the face of it, Will seems to be a self-sufficient person who lives life to the fullest as he leads a lifestyle with no duties and commitments, which anybody could envy. However, as the story unfolds, we see that the WW unwillingness to accept any responsibilities and grow up is merely a way to hide his vulnerable personality. 

Will built WT a protective wall around himself to avoid disappointment as he is frightened of being hurt by people. This is why he does not want to get involved with anybody and prefers to be on his own without committing to serious relationships, which are risky. Not until Will meets Rachel, does he realize that true love could be rewarding. However, no matter how scared and vulnerable Will is, he has to lose WW his shell to be with Rachel.

The theme of vulnerability that runs throughout the novel is something that everyone will find familiar. All of us are vulnerable to a certain extent, and we have to acknowledge that our actions, behavior, and experiences are dictated by our sensitive souls and inner babies WF inside us. Without a doubt, "About a Boy" will provoke a stimulating discussion.

Yours faithfully,

Lena *****


All content is relevant to the task. You have explained the importance of the theme of 'vulnerability' within the book, and illustrated this through reference to characters and events.

Communicative Achievement
You have written the piece in the format of a letter, whilst at the same time adhering to the conventions of a review. This would have a very positive impression on the reader, who would be persuaded to consider the book.

The letter is very clearly and logically organised, with clear paragraphing. Discourse markers are used effectively and the text reads coherently throughout.

A very proficient piece of writing Lena. You have shown your ability to use grammatical structures and vocabulary to express simple and more complex ideas effectively and accurately. Good use of tenses to describe events in the book. Just a few vocabulary corrections to note.

Well done!

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Marking Code

/\ Word(s) missing

- Omit word

C Capitalization

Gd Good

O Organisation

P Punctuation

PE Poorly expressed

R Register/Formality

SS Sentence Structure

S Spelling

T Tip

WF Wrong form

WO Word order

WT Wrong tense

WW Wrong word