Most likely your Active Grid is the Y grid which would be viewed edge on when viewing from the Front, Back, Right or Left. That would prevent you from being able to manipulate objects from those views.
You can manually switch your Active Grid using the hotkeys (x, y, z keys).
Or you can enable the Auto Grid setting in Preferences > Windows; or by using the Enable Auto Grids command in the Scripting menu. When Auto Grid is enabled, switching views automatically switches the active grid to the face-on grid.