Do graduate schools care if letters are confidential or not? In general, graduate programs prefer confidential letters. Admissions officials say that it displays more confidence on the part of the applicant if letters are "confidential" (meaning you, the applicant cannot see the letter). The Letter Service is required to indicate on the letter if it is confidential or non-confidential.
Don’t exaggerate -- show where and how they can improve. Don’t put the candidate on a pedestal. Not only does it not look plausible, it will also set expectations for them that will be next to impossible to meet. If they have an Achille’s heel, don’t exaggerate it, but don’t hide it, either.